"We, as a society, have failed the four-year-old child" : Sunita Krishnan

It is important to raise awareness since not only girls but frequently even younger boys are victims of sexual assault.

Banjara Hills Police

HYDERABAD: In a horrifying incident, the driver of the Hyderabad principal of a prestigious school groped an LKG student. The accused harassed the 4-year-old girl, sexually assaulted her, and pressed her neck. He'd follow her to the digital lab on a regular basis, taking advantage whenever the victim was alone. He would undress her and he'd touch her intimate areas. Despite having leg pain and, more importantly, fear for the last three months, the victim chose to keep silent and not tell her parents. Was it fear and anxiety? Was it a breakdown in communication? Was it a lack of understanding of good versus bad touch?

Everyone is at a loss for how to further prevent these kinds of situations in the future after the terrifying incident that angered all the parents in the community. Psychologists in the city assert that raising children's understanding of "safe touch" and "unsafe touch" as well as "consent" for the children is the common responsibility of parents, teachers, guardians, direct caregivers of the children, and society.

"Communication" is the key to putting an end to this menace, believes Dr. Diana Monteiro, a counselling psychologist and the founder of The Hyderabad Academy of Psychology.

She also believes that as parents, we must step up our game and become more involved in explaining these concepts to our children. "We must promote open communication with our children of all ages," said Dr. Diana.

"The idea that schools or counsellors should teach this to kids is the biggest problem. No! I believe that parents should first educate themselves and get over their shame, embarrassment, and fear of having sexual conversations. They should then work diligently and actively from the time their child is born until they are at least 18 years old to continue having these conversations about appropriate and inappropriate touching, sexual boundaries, and normal, healthy sexuality. "This will address a lot of the issues that I see young people and children dealing with," she remarked.

Sunita Krishnan, a social activist and co-founder of Prajwala, said, "We as a society have failed the four-year-old child, and we are accountable to her."

Krishnan stated her thoughts on how to deal with this issue: "The first question is how we can assist parents in developing the skills requisite to talk to their children about such sensitive issues without instilling fear in them. If something is wrong somewhere, a child should not wait three months to tell their parents. In fact, we should create such an environment at home so that the children can share anything they are experiencing on the same day. We need to start building a social system where we can prepare children to use these skills when they become parents and guide their children. "

She went on to say, "In this case, the child did not feel safe at school, nor did she inform her own family, despite the fact that she had been abused by the accused for several months and no one knew about it. This type of alert system, in which the child is given the confidence that if someone does something to them, they should notify their parents immediately and on the same day, can only be achieved through a collaborative approach. Schools and educational institutions are afraid to bring these incidents to light, fearing that their institution's image will be tarnished. The most they do is fire the accused, but the perpetrator is still out there confidently abusing other children.

Krishnan is of the opinion that "Child Protection Policies should be non-negotiable in schools and educational institutions. When it comes to our children, we should have zero tolerance. When we talk about remedial methods, it's not only about good touch and bad touch; it's about creating a society that is zero tolerant of child sexual abuse (CSA). Also, instead of just arresting the perpetrator, law enforcement should investigate further to determine whether he is also abusing other children, and if so, he should be fixed. If the culprit is not fixed and convicted right away, we will all be held accountable for perpetuating sex crimes in society.

"POCSO cases are on the rise these days, particularly in schools. We have received many such complaints in recent times, and we have noticed that when one student or parent complains, others follow suit. As a result, it is critical for victims and parents to file complaints," says Rachakonda Police Commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat.

He went on to say that the entire family, including boys and girls, should sit together and that parents should explain private parts using a doll. They should explain that, with the exception of their parents, no one should touch their private parts, including their own cousins, uncles, or relatives. Children should be taught to tell their parents right away if they notice anything suspicious.

The POCSO Act is also a gender-neutral act. It is important to raise awareness since not only girls but frequently even younger boys are victims of sexual assault. When such incidents occur, schools should come forward and file a police report; otherwise, action will be taken against the schools. Parents, teachers and educational institutions can take help of Dr. Bhushan Shukla's YouTube videos on good and bad touch said Bhagwat.

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