July 20, 2013

Talking to kids about sexual safety – II

In an earlier post, I talked about Childline India’s programme on educating school kids on sexual safety. The programme, which runs in 180 schools across the city, teaches kids about basic concepts related to sexual safety. When they started devising the programme in 2011, they found that when it comes to sexuality education, “there is a tremendous communication gap between teachers and children, parents and children,” says Nishit Kumar of Childline India. “Parents expect that school will deliver it. Schools shied away from it because they thought that parents will be against it. There is a huge communication gap, huge vocabulary gap.”

To tackle the problem of vocabulary, they turned to the oldest things, the forms that came first — nursery rhymes, fairy tales, stories. The programme uses stories and visual aids to talk to kids in standards 2 to 6 about staying safe. It avoids words like abuse or sex. It works with concepts like safe and unsafe touch, personal safety rules, the concept of trusting someone that they confide in, the concept of recognising actions that make them feel uncomfortable.

Here is another example of a session. The purpose of reproducing these sessions and this material here is to help parents who want to handle these issues themselves because they don’t have access to organisations that can help, or to spark ideas for other organisations / individuals / schools that want to start such sessions. Please get in touch with Childline India if you have questions.

This session takes 30 to 40 minutes and involves 9 to 11-year-olds. Volunteers conducting the session receive training on how to handle the session as well as questions and discussion after it. These include:

 

  • Speak clearly and slowly
  • Ask permission from the children at the beginning of the class to talk to them. It is their right to participation.
  • Tell them clearly how much time you will take, and what are the activities you will cover. (30 mins, story telling and a question answer session)
  • You may ask a disruptive child if he/she wishes to stand outside the classroom and listen
  • At the end of the session thank the children for listening
  • Never use the term “child sexual abuse”
  • Never use violence (verbal or physical) or force to get the children to listen or “behave”
  • If you feel a child asks a question you cannot answer, do not make up something or lie. Ask the child to speak to his/her Trusted Adult.
  • Do not react to every response, some children might laugh or giggle when you discuss private parts.

 

 

The Story (this is an unedited version reproduced as faithfully as possible from material provided by Childline India)

 

Flip to Chart 1

 

 

pinky_english_1

 

 

This story is about a girl named Pinky who was 10 years old. Pinky wanted me to come here today and share her story with you. She said “it is important that all children know my story.”

 

Pinky lived in a small colony in Dadar, walking distance from her school. Everyday she would walk home with her friend Bunty. When she got home her neighbour Aunty would be there. Aunty would take care of her for a few hours until her mother came home. Pinky liked playing with Aunty. She was kind and gentle. Mr. Uncle, Aunty’s husband, used to work in a factory but one day had to give up his job and so Aunty had to work more hours to earn more money. So now when she got home from school, Mr. Uncle would watch her instead of Aunty.

 

Flip to Chart 2

 

pinky_english_2

One day when she came back from school and was playing with her dolls in her room, Mr. Uncle asked her to come out to the hall. He said he had a present for her, a new box of colour pencils that she really wanted. He said “Pinky, if you want the present you have to do something for me.” Pinky asked Mr. Uncle what she had to do as she was eager for the new colour pencils. Mr. Uncle said he was having trouble undoing his belt buckle, and because of his big tummy he could not see it properly. So he asked Pinky to help remove his belt. Pinky thought this was very weird, but she also wanted the pencils, so she helped Mr. Uncle remove his belt. Mr. Uncle kept smiling at her. Once she had done this he gave her the pencils and said “This is our secret Pinky, you can’t tell anyone. Every time I come I will bring you something but you must keep it a secret. We are part of a secret club that exchanges presents, ok?” Pinky agreed and ran back into her room to draw. When her mother came home, Mr. Uncle had put his belt back on.

 

Everyday Mr. Uncle brought things for Pinky, like pencils, erasers, notebooks, marbles and a rubber ball. She kept them hidden under her bed in a box, so her parents wouldn’t find them. Mr. Uncle had made her do this because their secret was not to be shared with anyone. Every time Mr. Uncle brought her something he wanted a “present” from her too. He would make her take off his belt etc. Pinky felt uncomfortable with this. She felt her inner voice tell her this was not right. But because it was part of the secret club she did it.

 

 

Flip to Chart 3

pinky_english_3

 

A few days later when she got home from school, her neighbour Mr. Uncle was waiting for her. He had forgotten to take the keys from Pinky’s mother so told Pinky to come to his house instead. He gave her some chocolates and ice cream and told her she was a sweet girl. Usually Pinky’s Mother didn’t let her have sweets before dinner, but Mr Uncle said today was a very special day. It was his birthday, so he deserved a really BIG present. He said, “Pinky, your uniform has become dirty after school, let me give you a bath today.” Pinky didn’t want to take a bath, but Uncle told her that he would tell everyone including her parents about the secret club and all the presents and that she had hidden. This time Pinky’s inner voice was sending off alarms.

 

Flip to Chart 4

 

pinky_english_4

 

Pinky did not like this at all. She was very uncomfortable and uneasy. She began to cry. But Mr. Uncle kept telling her it was ok. That night Pinky could not sleep, she did not eat her dinner and was scared and sad. She worried about what she would do tomorrow when she got back from school. She thought about running away and never coming home. But she realized she would miss her home and her parents. She was scared to tell anybody what had happened, because it made her feel dirty and bad.

 

In school and on their way home everyday Bunty noticed that Pinky was very upset. She did not talk in class or play with him during break. When it was time to go home, she got even more upset. It was almost like she didn’t want to go home. So one day Bunty asked Pinky what was wrong. Pinky knew that she should not tell anyone about the secret club. But Bunty would not tell anyone about what had happened; Mr. Uncle would never know she had told anyone, so Pinky shared her secret. When she started crying Bunty gave her a hug and told her it was ok. He said he also had an uncle that used to do bad things. Now Uncle was no longer allowed in his house or anywhere near him. Pinky didn’t understand.

 

Flip to Chart 5

 

pinky_english_5

 

Bunty said that when he was eight years old an uncle of his used to show him pictures of grown up men and women which were not for children. He would show these pictures when no one else was at home. Bunty had felt uneasy and had told his mother. His mother had told him that what his uncle had done was wrong. Nobody is allowed to touch you in your private body parts, or make you touch them or show you things that are not for children. This is called unsafe touch or unsafe actions. When your mother or father hug you or touch your private parts it is to keep you clean and healthy and because they love you. That is safe touch. But what Mr. Uncle had done was very wrong. Bunty said that Pinky had to tell an adult she trusted about what had happened.

 

Pinky decided to talk to her mother. She told her everything that had happened. Her mother gave her a hug and said, Pinky whatever happened was not your fault. You have done the right thing by telling me about it.

 

A few days later Uncle moved to a different colony, because nobody wanted to stay near him. So, Pinky never had to see Mr. Uncle again, even by accident, as he had moved to a different city.

 

Flip to Chart 6

 

pinky_english_6

 

Pinky wanted to share this story and wanted to make sure that all children knew that when something bad like this happens it is important to do the following things: Shout STOP!! Run away and tell. Practice shouting no. Ask the children what are other ways to say no.

 

Review

 

  • How to you think Pinky felt before she could talk to anyone?
  • How do you think she felt after she spoke with Aunty?
  • What if someone touched your private parts or made you touch them or yourself in front of them, what would you do? This is called unsafe touch.
  • What if someone made you watch adult pictures that made you uncomfortable or confused, what would you do? This is called unsafe action
  • What if someone you loved did something bad to you, and you were confused; what would you do? This is called confused touch. Even when confused you should tell a trusted adult.
  •  *If a child asks what are private parts? Answer with, parts of your body covered by your swimming costume are your private parts.
  • Hand each child a sheet of six labels. Ask them to remove a pencil or pen. Write on the blackboard “I trust ___________________ to keep me safe”. In the white spaces at the bottom of each label have them write “I trust ___________________ to keep me safe”. Explain why you are making them do this.
  • Remind the children: Always trust your inner voice. It will set off an alarm/siren when something wrong or bad is happening or going to happen. The minute that happens tell a trusted adult.
  • Lastly remind them: All children are unique and special and deserve to feel safe. If they want someone to talk to, a didi or bhaiya will listen to them if they dial 1098.

***

 

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