February took off with a parent-initiated session which was requested and organised by a concerned parent from a housing society in Central Mumbai. Usually we have to approach and request parents to make time for this, but it boosted our morale to see this being initiated by a group of parents instead. After all, we believe that children’s safety is an adult responsibility. It was also very heartening to notice that along with mothers, a few fathers also showed up for the awareness workshop.

It was also very heartening to notice that along with mothers, a few fathers also showed up for the awareness workshop.

The session started with the filling of a questionnaire by the parents, where they had to tick either yes or no in response to a few questions regarding CSA. The reason we do this is to gauge the existing awareness levels of the audience (wrt CSA). The parents seemed to be deeply intrigued and shocked when we dissected these questions and dissipated information on the basis of available Government data. They actively participated, answering questions asked by us and also shared some of their own experiences with their kids.

 

 

Like for instance, a lady shared her experience about how her child was touched inappropriately by a boy of the same age as hers, which didn’t seem to be like an honest mistake. When the child told her mother, the lady was confused as to how to react, because although she supported her child, but she felt she also couldn’t take drastic steps as she was good friends with the boy’s mother. Her dilemma was how to broach the subject without creating conflict between the two families. Here, we made her see that for the boy to do such a thing, he would have needed to be exposed to this behaviour at the hands of someone else. Hence, the proper thing to do was to approach the parents of the boy with concern rather than rage, in order to secure the safety and well-being of both children.  Many similar experiences were shared and we helped them to understand how to tackle such situations as a parent.

Teaching children the correct biological names of their private body parts removes the sense of shame surrounding these parts.

We also tried to impart prevention tactics. Many parents were against the idea of teaching children about their private parts at an early age. Our counsellor explained how teaching children the correct biological names of their private body parts removes the sense of shame surrounding these parts, and provides the correct vocabulary to children to report abuse, if it ever happens.

The session ended with a lot of appreciation from the parents. They thanked us for imparting knowledge that they felt was extremely vital. In fact, they requested us to conduct our safety programme with their children, to which we happily agreed.

 

 

Parents who take initiative: Building safety nets within communities
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