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CSA Awareness Program

CHILD Protection & Child Rights » Vulnerable Children » Children's Issues » Child Sexual Abuse » CSA Awareness Program

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CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) launched the Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Program in January 2011. The Program, which is Mumbai's largest communication initiative on CSA Awareness, aims to reach 1000 schools and 1 million children and their families over the next one year.

CHILDLINE found that though 53 per cent of Indian children experience sexual abuse, the reporting is extremely low since information about the possibility of abuse isn't imparted to children. A program targeting children was the need of the hour and the Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) Awareness program was launched in Mumbai in January, 2011.

The CSA Awareness Program reaches out to children between the age group of 7-12 years i.e 2nd -6th standard. This age group has been targeted as various studies, including the 2007 report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), have found the 7-12 years age group to be the most vulnerable to sexual abuse.

The CSA Awareness Program Delivery Model has been evolved keeping in mind a four pronged approach. The Model looks at engaging the Community, Parents, Children and putting Support Structures in place.

CSA Awareness Program Delivery Model:

I) Community Engagement:

For an issue as sensitive as CSA Awareness, it was realized that any program dealing with this issue cannot be sustainable until the community owned the program as their own. Keeping this in mind, it was decided to include home makers, working professionals and students and reach out to as large a base of lady volunteers as possible.

A) Volunteer Recruitment:

To reach out to such a varied group, the CHILDLINE Team tied up with Colleges, Malls and book stores/ salons. Given below are details of a few of the tie ups:

a) Reaching out to Student Volunteers: The team tied up with the Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women's University, the Social Involvement program (SIP) at St. Xavier's College and the National Service Scheme (NSS) Cell of the University of Mumbai.

b) Reaching Parents: Through collaboration with Mrs. Arundhati Chavan; President of the PTA United Forum, the CHILDLINE Team aimed at gaining volunteers from active Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in schools across the city from 140 member schools of the PTA UF. CHILDLINE also contacted an additional 706 schools from an internal list.

c) Outreach at Malls: To reach out to a mixed group of homemakers, working professionals and students, the Team felt that the best way would be to target malls and set up an Awareness kiosk on a weekend. So far, the team has set up kiosks at three malls namely, R Mall- Mulund, HyperCITY-Malad and at Infiniti Mall - Andheri.

d) Leaflets at Stores: The CHILDLINE team has placed leaflets at various stores across the city to ensure that as many ladies as possible get a chance to volunteer.

  • LANDMARK LTD outlets at Lower Parel, Vashi and Andheri in May, 2011
  • Juice Salon outlets at Bandra, Kemps Corner, Colaba, Khar and Vashi in June, 2011
  • Fabindia outlet at Kala Ghoda in June, 2011

B) Selection & Training of Volunteers: After prospective lady volunteers register by filling out the form, they are called for a 1 hour orientation to the CIF Head office at Grant Road. Here, any doubts that the volunteers have about the Program are cleared and the team uses this interaction as the basis on which to select volunteers.

Orientation Format:

  • Introduction to CHILDLINE India Foundation
  • Introducing the genesis of the program.
  • Small True or False test on CSA, as an ice breaker
  • Discussing the details of the program and the commitment expected
  • Sharing of the Commitment Document
  • Answering queries of prospective volunteers, if any

All candidates selected for the training sign a Commitment Document at the time of confirmation.

Once selected, the volunteers have to attend a free two day training workshop that is designed to equip them with the skills required on the field while conducting sensitization sessions for children. The workshop is divided into a knowledge and skills component, and has been designed bearing in mind the fact that volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and its necessary to bring them on the same page as far as their knowledge of the issue and the skills are concerned.

Post the training, volunteers are provided with their school list, according to their area and language preference. So for eg: If a volunteer opts for English and Gujrati medium schools in Mulund, Mumbai, her list of schools will be drawn up accordingly. A volunteer also has the flexibility of opting for a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 10 schools, depending on the amount of time she can devote.

Resource Persons for the training included Vidya Apte, from the Forum Against Child Sexual Exploitation (FACSE); Prof. Asha Bajpai from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS); Dr. Nilima Mehta, visiting faculty from TISS, SNDT & NN; Jaya Aiyappa, Counselor; Dr. Duru Shah, Chairman of the Indian College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology; Dr. Chhaya Sambharya Prasad, Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrician, at the Govt. Regional Institute for Mentally Handicapped, Chandigarh; Trupti Panchal, TISS; Sheela Dinkar Sail, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Enforcement, Crime Branch, Mumbai City; Mrs. Arundhati Chavan, President- PTA UF and Manjul Bhardwaj, Theatre Person.

So far, two training workshops have been conducted for 49 volunteers.

C) Material used for the School Program:

1) Handbook for CSA Awareness School Program:

The handbook developed for lady volunteer's acts as a refresher course on CSA even after the training is over. It includes various chapters covering in detail the sessions conducted during the training. It covers various topics such as 'Role of the Child Welfare Committee' by Trishla Jasani- Consultant Coordinator, CIF; Understanding CSA by Dr. Shubhada Maitra- Associate Professor, TISS; CSA and the Law by Dr. Asha Bajpai- Professor, TISS etc. Most of the chapters have been written by the same resource persons who conducted these sessions at the training.

The handbook also contains a chapter on how to approach schools for permissions to conduct the program, what are the approaches to take, the two stories that will be used for conducting the sessions and an awareness session for parents/ teachers are also available in English and Hindi, so that there's no deviation. Regional translations of the stories and the session for parents/ teachers i.e. Marathi and Gujarati are put into an envelope on the last page of the handbook. Samples of all the material that will be used in classes is also included so that there is complete transparency with the school along with a material and schools completed log.

2) Stories: Through the medium of story-telling and accompanying images, volunteers are able to take simple information to classrooms. As seen in the 2007 MWCD study, ages 7-12 years (standards 2-6) are the most vulnerable group to sexual abuse. Hence the stories have been designed with this age group in mind. The target age group has been further sub -divided into standards 2nd-4th (ages 7-9 years) and standards 5th-6th (ages 10-12 years). A separate story has been developed for each sub-group. A story about Bunty and a Tiger was developed for Primary School classes and a story about Pinky and her experiences was developed for Secondary School classes. Both the stories have a four fold objective i.e to teach children: what is a safe touch, what is an unsafe touch, what is an unsafe action and what to do if they are in a situation with an unsafe touch or unsafe action (Personal Safety Rules)

3) Flipcharts - To engage the children's interest in the story, a flipchart containing corresponding images to the stories is used while narrating both the stories.

4) Label sheets: After completing the session i.e the story and a Q& A segment if required, the volunteers hands out a sheet of six labels that children use everyday on their notebooks. However, this label is unique because it has a rectangular box at the bottom, where we make every child write in the class one sentence:

"I trust __________________ to keep me safe." This is to ensure that even after the volunteer has finished the session, the children will be reminded of the session and the fact that they are supposed to talk to a trusted adult if they face a touching problem.

5) Letter to Parents: A sealed Letter to Parents is handed out to children after the label exercise. This letter is sealed in such a manner that a child will not be able to read the content unless he/she tears it open. The letter informs the parents that their child has gone through an awareness program on safe and unsafe touch and also tells them what is child sexual abuse along with various tips on how to keep their children safe, what steps should they follow if their child discloses abuse. This letter is available in English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati for the Mumbai Program.

6) Poster: Once all classes from 2nd-6th have gone through the sessions, the volunteer hands over a poster to the school's management. There are two posters that have been developed, 1 with a girl's image and another with a boy's image, however the content is the same in both. The poster is placed at a central notice board in the school premises and acts as a reminder to children on safe and unsafe touch, along with personal safety rules.

All these materials are provided to the volunteers by CIF.

The kit is delivered either to the volunteer's residence or directly to the school by a CHILDLINE team member. An entry record stating the amount of material given to each volunteer is maintained by CIF, and the volunteer also maintains a record of the material handed out in schools in the handbook.

II) Engaging Children:

Through collaboration with Mrs. Arundhati Chavan; President of the PTA United Forum, the Team aimed at gaining volunteers from active Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in schools across the city from 140 PTA UF member schools. CHILDLINE also mailed the PTA United Forum (PTA UF) member schools separately, along with an additional 706 schools from an internal list.

Tie Ups for School Permissions:

  1. Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) Education Dept: In order to, take the program to municipal schools, efforts were made to tie up with the Education department. A proposal was presented to Ms Geeta More Patil, Chief Officer, Public Private Partnership Cell, Education department of the MCGM. She then forwarded the proposal to the Education Officer, MCGM, Mr.Abasaheb Jadhav, who sanctioned the proposal allowing the program to be taken to all 1400 MCGM schools. Please refer to Annexure 19 for a photocopy of the permission letter from the Education Department.

    The CAPT has been working with the Community Development Officer's (CDO's) of all wards to ensure the smooth permission process for the volunteers. A presentation was also made regarding the program to all the CDO's at their monthy meeting.

  2. Tie up with other NGOs: In order to trap sessions in MCGM schools at the earliest, before gaining the permissions ourselves; we approached three NGOs: Door Step School, LIFE Trust, and MelJol, hoping to take the sessions to MCGM schools that they worked in. Post the first workshop a demonstration of the classroom session as well as a question/answer round was set up with coordinators and counselors from all three NGOs on 17th February, 2011.

  3. Tie up with the Interact Clubs of the Rotary Club of Bombay North (RCBN): The CAPT has tied up with RCBN to take the CSA Awareness Program to the three schools under their Interact Clubs i.e Shardashram Vidymandir, Dadar; Bombay Scottish School, Mahim and National Girls' School, Bandra. The process of gaining permissions has started and we are hoping to cover the schools shortly.

  4. Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE): The ABE is an association of all the Catholic Schools in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad Districts. The CAPT was invited by the ABE to address the meeting of representatives of all 142 member ABE schools on 4th August, 2011 where CAPT made a 10 minute presentation on the the CSA Awareness Program.

Classroom Sessions: The sessions for children have been designed to fit into 1 standard classroom period of 30-40 minutes. Schools have been willing to allot 1 period per class for the awareness sessions. The 30 minute classroom session starts with the volunteer introducing herself as a didi from CHIDLINE. Then she conducts the story telling session for approximately 20 minutes, which also includes review questions and clarifies any doubts that the children may have. The stories are told using the flipcharts as a visual aid. Post this, the volunteer conducts the Label Sheet exercise with the children and then hands out the sealed 'Letter to Parents' to the children.

III) Parent Engagement:

  • Involvement of the parents is crucial to the success of the Program, as one of the main thrusts of the program is to strive towards the breaking the silence surrounding this sensitive issue. As full participation of parents is important, the CHILDLINE Program uses the 'Letter to Parents' to reach out to the parents of all the children that the program reaches out to. This letter informs parents that their child has gone through the sensitization sessions and also educates them about the issue of CSA.

  • Parent teacher Association (PTA) Awareness Sessions: The session for parents/ teachers covers topics such as what is child sexual abuse, busting common myths on CSA, explaining the process of grooming, recognizing abuse and preventing CSA. This maybe conducted if the school shows an interest in having the session. Any queries that the parents may have about the sensitization sessions for children are also resolved during the session. So far, the team has conducted PTA sessions in 10 schools across the city.

IV) Support Structure Engagement:

The CHILDLINE Team realized that only a preventive communication program for children isn't enough, it also has to have a support structure in place.

A) CSA Bill: This aimed at taking up with Maharashtra and Union Government the issue of a gap in law to deal with CSA. A draft law was developed and handed over to the Maharashtra Government as well as to the National Centre for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). CIF is part of a committee setup by NCPCR to recommend a draft law on CSA to the Union Government. CIF has also held consultations with other NGOs on the draft law.

B) A Counselor's workshop was also held on 9th April, 2011. The aim of this workshop was to build a bank of counselor's who could then be called upon in case children disclosed incidents of sexual abuse post the sensitization sessions. 36 counselor's/ psychiatrists/ therapists were a part of this workshop.

The panel for this workshop included Dr. Shubhada Maitra (TISS), Dr. Preeti Kandasamy (NIMHANS) and Mrinalini Rao (Railway Children).

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