17 Mar 2014

From Awareness To Intervention

*Nicolette D’souza

One of the many issues that CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) focuses on is the Prevention of Sexual Abuse among children. CIF has initiated the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse School Awareness Program, where they send trained volunteers to schools to sensitize children about Safe Touch, Unsafe Touch and Personal Safety Rules. Keeping in mind the maturity level of the children (aged 7 - 12 years); the message is given in the form of stories. The main objective of these sessions is to teach children safety rules in order to prevent such things from happening, or to talk or report to someone in case something like this has already happened.

Recently, in a school in Mumbai during the session, a young girl happened to start crying. According to protocol, after the session the concerned volunteer spoke to the child privately. Through sobs and sniffs, the child narrated a story that clearly indicated sexual abuse. The act involved one of her maternal uncles.

Like any other young schoolgirl in her situation, she told us her parents didn’t know about the incident as yet. With her permission and the permission of the relevant seniors at CIF, the matter is now taken to the parents as well as the required and appropriate authorities. Also, with consecutive follow ups by CIF with regard to the condition of the girl, we are happy to report that there is a major difference in the girl’s behavior. Before she opened up to the CHILDLINE didi, the girl was very quiet, rarely spoke to the other girls and almost never interacted with anyone including her teacher. However, after talking about the incident, she felt better. Sharing what she’d been through made her realize that there are in fact people who listen and help. She now knows that what happened to her was not her fault and found hope in her new-found friends at CIF. In other words, she became a child again.

Moving on, the way the volunteer handles the situation through the whole process, depends on where the outcome lies. Little did the volunteer know that reality would occur so soon or that it would happen at all!

Other than the obvious feeling of shock and anger and pity and sympathy one cannot help but notice the tingling feeling at the back of the head. The feeling of accomplishment or triumph that a volunteer, a mere citizen of the country actually helped a child! Knowing that the child won’t be as emotionally and psychologically damaged with high chances of leading a normal life in the future, makes one want to continue with the same zeal and dedication hoping to reach out to more children in the future.

Thank you CHILDLINE!

* Nicolette D'souza was an intern with CHILDLINE India Foundation.