8 Jul 2016

Are you watching your child?

I had the opportunity to enroll myself for a volunteer training session by the CSAAP (Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Project) team of Childline India which works towards prevention and communication of sexual abuse cases in a child’s life.  Our trainer Ms Suchismita Bose from The Foundation gave much needed insights to help us understand the roots of the problem. Here are some signs which as per the trainer we should watch out for in a child :-

  •  Acting out in an inappropriate sexual way with toys or objects
  • Nightmares, sleeping problems
  • Becoming withdrawn or very clingy
  • Becoming unusually secretive
  • Sudden unexplained personality changes, mood swings and seeming insecure
  • Regressing to younger behaviours, e.g. bedwetting
  • Unaccountable fear of particular places or people
  • New adult words for body parts and no obvious source
  • Talk of a new, older friend and unexplained money or gifts
  • Physical signs, such as, unexplained soreness or bruises around genitals or mouth, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy
  • Not wanting to be alone with a particular child or young person

Subsequently Suchismita highlighted and underlined some very important aspects for a parent to be aware of and behave appropriately  

Stop making the child feel like a victim

As she rightly said, parents can be under equal turmoil. However she pointed out that given their courage to face the situation, the onus of making or breaking the child lies on the parent. She says as an adult or a parent the biggest help that we can do to your child who is a victim of sexual abuse is Stop making him feel like a victim. This can give the child the much needed courage to shift the burden from being a victim to becoming level headed and combat the situation like a warrior.

 ‘Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?’

She pointed out a very common and a natural pattern of reaction by all parents. And am sure we have it internally imbibed this.  When you hear a child sob his story the next question that pops in our mind is ‘Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?’ According to Suchismita, its not just the words but even your eyes speak in volumes. Projecting this question in your dialogue directly or indirectly stimulates a thought in the child’s mind that he could have controlled the situation, while may not be the case in reality. Why put the child in a spot when he is already undergoing a trauma?

Stay away from self-assumed counseling

Suchismita warned us against counseling the child. Not because the child will not respond but we as amateurs may not adopt a right method unlike a professional counselor who just knows where to stop. She also encouraged all of us to use the services of children helpline 1098 who can help us at all stages from counseling to helping us file an FIR.

In conclusion, it must be said that parents need to take that extra step of making their child aware of this problem by not just alienating them from the crowd but by educating them about the problem and helping them to be a part of the crowd.

12 Jan 2016

CHILDLINE saved 4 children from Recycling Unit

In a tip off received by CHILDLINE, 4 children confined to in a recycling Unit and were working under inhuman conditions for over four months were rescued by CHILDLINE, along with Rajarajeshwari Nagar police in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Four children were rescued from a recycling unit by CHILDLINE in association with Rajarajeshwari Nagar police in Bangalore. The children worked in a unit which was spread on over an acre in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and were illegally employed by Rajendra Prasad for plastic bag segregation, taken from open gutters. They were confined to the unit and were working under inhuman conditions for over four months.

The rescued boys, all said to be aged between 12 and 14 years, were brought from Navadha district in Bihar and said that their employer had promised to pay them Rs. 3,000 per month, which he sent to their parents. After a tip-off on child labourers, the CHILDLINE team rushed to the unit. They found the children washing the segregated plastic covers in waste water which was highly polluted with chemical particles. The work area of the children was not visible as it was covered with sheets. 

The team eventually managed to enter the area through a small gate. Big plastic bags with chemicals were found inside and stink rose from the work area as the children had to wash the chemicals out of the plastic in dirty water. The children would wash the sheets in a storm water drain passing through the unit. Prasad would get huge bundles of plastic sheets from factories which were cut into pieces, washed and dried before being sold for recycling.

The team also discovered that the children were housed in an unhygienic shed adjacent to their work area that lacked basic facilities like electricity and clean drinking water. The children said that after reaching Bangalore, they were not allowed to go out anywhere and did not expect this kind of work. When they pleaded with the employer, Rajendra Prasad, to let them return home, he would shout at them. The boys worked 14 hours a day, from 6 am to 8 pm, and were allowed to bathe once in 15 days. Prasad provided grocery and the children cooked meals twice a day. Prasad would call their parents once a week and allow the boys to talk for a few minutes. That was the day the boys looked forward to.

The rescue team could not confront Prasad, as he had gone out. But the children provided information to the police based on which, appropriate steps will be taken by them. All the four rescued children were later produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) for further action. Throughout the journey to the CWC, the boys were peering out of the windows of the vehicle. They said that this was the first time they were seeing the city. The police are on the lookout for the employer, who is absconding and as per the instructions from the CWC, the children were sent to a rescue home.