How Safe are Our Students?
Childhood is the most innocent phase of life. What they learn and experience during the phase influences their development as an individual. But what if they are robbed of their innocence at such a tender age? That may be the biggest crime ever committed. Unfortunately, a large number of children around the world are subjected to molestation on a daily basis that can lead to mental and physical trauma, the burden of which the children will have to carry for the rest of their lives.
Some facts and figures
India ranks 4th in the list of countries with highest rape crime rates and about 42.2% of the victims are minors. News related to student molestation isn't anything new and most of us choose to ignore it until it happens to someone we know.
One of the latest cases of student molestation is the abuse of a LKG student by her seniors in a school in Kerala. Even after the case was reported, the school authorities did not take any immediate action against the senior students.
This event itself proves how schools, the place which is supposed to provide knowledge and security to students, are not safe anymore. Circumstances have changed and now, almost every parent has that fear in mind until their child, especially if it is a girl child, comes back from school.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there has been an increase in crime against children in 2013, compared to the previous years. It has been reported that cases of molestation have increased by 47.7% in 2013 compared to previous years.
These statistics have been taken considering only those cases which have been reported. If we consider those unreported case as well, the numbers will definitely rise. It is a fact that in India, 1 out 2 children under the age of 10 faces sexual abuse. But, in most cases, the authorities choose to remain silent. In fact, only a few schools report abuse, an even lower number takes immediate action and only a marginal percent has student counsellors.
In most cases, children refuse to reveal that they have been molested, mainly out of fear. But, according to psychologists there are some symptoms that indicate that the child is stressed out that indicate that the child has been subjected to sexual abuse:
- Mistrust towards adults
- Avoidance of people
- Sleep problems, nightmares and fear of bed
- Absent mind
- Refusal to go to school
- Aggressive behaviour
- Disorders in habit
- Unusual behaviour
- Extreme fear while touching Constant fear of people
- Sudden silence showing no interest over things once interested Gloomy behaviour
There are a whole lot of things that can be done to prevent child sexual abuse and to help children out of the trauma in case they have been subjected to sexual abuse:
a) Follow sexual abuse prevention policies and ensure that the security arrangements are fully functional
b) Educate children about their bodies and what parts of their bodies, others should not touch
c) Make sex education a must in school for students of the appropriate age
d) Make a plan involving the students and thereby making them aware of where to go, what to do and how to react in case of an attempt of sexual abuse
e) Conduct seminars or similar programs to educate the parents and students about sexual abuse
f) Ensure that students can rely on you if they are subjected to any type of abuse
g) Provide self-defense training to students
h) Appoint counselors to help students deal with the trauma if they are subjected to sexual abuse in school
i) Have a background check done before appointing an employee in the school
Students are the responsibility of the school right from the time they leave from home to school until they are back to their homes in the evening. Therefore, it is important for schools to come forward and take strict actions to ensure safety of students for they are the future of our country.