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POCSO Act, 2012: Role of Schools in Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

Deepika Sodhi
Jan 9, 2023
Schools, Learning

Every child has the right to grow up in a safe and secure environment, free from any form of abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, child sexual abuse is an all-too-common occurrence in India and around the world.

In this blog, we'll discuss how schools can play a vital role in preventing such heinous offences through the implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO Act 2012) 

We'll look at how education on safety protocols can help protect children and what steps schools can take to ensure that their students are safe and sound. And as parents, you should be aware of this crucial information before seeking a cbse school admission for your child.

What is POCSO Act 2012 for Students in school?

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act of 2012 (POCSO Act) was passed to provide a strong legal framework for protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The POCSO Act for students defines certain crimes against them and imposes severe penalties for such crimes. The Act also establishes special courts for the trial of offences under the Act and requires that trials be held in private or conducted through a camera.

The Role of School Authorities and Teachers 

School authorities and teachers play a vital role in preventing child sexual abuse. 

Best School in Ahmedabad will create an environment that is safe and secure for children, where they feel comfortable to openly discuss any issues or concerns they may have. 

By providing education on the topic of child sexual abuse, school authorities and teachers can help to raise awareness of the issue and empower children to protect themselves. 

Additionally, school authorities and teachers can be alert to signs of abuse and take appropriate action if they suspect that a child may be at risk. Here are a few responsibilities of school authorities and teachers in actively contributing to this cause:

1. Draft a Child Protection Policy

It is the duty of school authorities and teachers to protect their students from sexual abuse. They can do this by drafting a child protection policy that outlines the procedures to be followed in case of an incident of abuse. The policy should include a reporting mechanism for incidents of abuse, as well as a clear list of prohibited behaviours. It should also specify the roles and responsibilities of all staff members in relation to child protection.

2. Take Proactive Measures to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

There are many things that school authorities can do to prevent child sexual abuse. 

● CCTV cameras, as well as warning signs, must be installed in all strategic areas of schools. 

● Monitor the activities of staff members, visitors, and strangers to ensure their child's safety. 

● Always keep an eye on who the children are leaving with. 

● Monitor any activities that involve photographing children, using photographs of children, using the internet, or using technology on school grounds.

● Thorough background checks of faculty before they are hired to ensure there are no previous records of sexual abuse as an offender

3. Organise Awareness Sessions

Organise student awareness sessions to teach children about the concepts of good touch, bad touch, and sexual abuse. Children should be able to tell someone if they have been sexually abused. Schools should conduct regular sessions on personal safety that cover topics such as body parts, online safety, and abuse protection.

Students should feel comfortable asking questions and sharing any concerns they may have. Staff should be trained on how to handle disclosures of abuse, they should be trained on the provisions of POCSO Act and their responsibilities and understand the importance of keeping children safe. Parents should also be given information on how to support their child if they have been abused.

4. Responsibilities of Teachers and Parents

It is the joint responsibility of teachers and parents to ensure the safety of children from sexual abuse. They need to work together to create a safe environment for children to learn and grow.

Teachers should be able to identify the signs of abuse and know how to respond if they suspect a child is being abused. 

Parents should be able to talk to their children about body safety, establish boundaries, and monitor their children's activities and relationships.

Both teachers and parents need to be aware of the policies and procedures in place at their school or childcare center regarding child sexual abuse. They should know who to contact if they have concerns or suspicions about abuse. They should also make sure that their own behaviour toward children is appropriate and respectful.

What Precautions Should Be Taken by Schools to Prevent Abuse?  

Firstly, it is important that all staff members are aware of the signs of abuse and are trained in how to deal with any concerns that arise.

Secondly, the school should have a clear policy on child protection and safeguarding, which should be regularly reviewed and updated

 Thirdly, there should be regular communication with parents and carers about the importance of keeping children safe from harm

Finally, the school should provide age-appropriate sex and relationships education to pupils, which includes information on how to stay safe from abuse.

Procedure to Report Child Sexual Abuse for Child Protection

If you witness or suspect child sexual abuse, it is important to report it immediately. By doing so, you can help the child and bring the perpetrator to justice.

You should advise your child or student to promptly report the incident to you or a trusted adult in order to take immediate steps of action.

You should consider reporting the offence if:

A child or adult exhibits numerous and consistent warning signs of abuse or risk of abuse. 

A child has reported that an adult is abusing them. 

A child has reported that another child has engaged in sexually inappropriate behaviour with them. 

A child claims to have sexually harmed another child. 

An adult has admitted to sexually abusing a child. 

A person has became aware of child sexual abuse material (child pornography) on the internet. An adult notices another adult or child viewing child sexual abuse material.

Parents or teachers should immediately notify the Schools Complaints Committee when they come across such situations.

POCSO Guidelines for Schools 

● Every school, according to the POCSO Act, should have a School Complaints Committee, or SCC. 

● Anyone who witnesses or suspects child sexual abuse, or who learns of an incident from children, should report it to the Committee. 

● The schools should also install a complaint/suggestion box in the school for students to submit written complaints. 

● The committee should act immediately on any child sexual abuse complaint received through the complaint box or otherwise. 

● The school should appoint a part-time or full-time counsellor. They should inform the children about this service's availability and encourage interaction between the counsellor and the students.

POCSO Guidelines for Teachers 

● Teachers should be sensitive to the needs of children and should create an environment where children feel safe to disclose any form of abuse. 

● Teachers should also be alert to any changes in a child's behaviour or appearance that could indicate abuse. 

● In case a child discloses abuse, teachers should immediately report the matter to the concerned authorities. 

Conclusion

The responsibility of protection of children from sexual offences should be taken very seriously by schools, teachers and parents alike. In order to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation, schools must create an environment where children feel safe and secure, and where they can freely report any instances of abuse. And as parents, we should actively educate them about what to do and how to be more careful in such a situation. 

FAQs

What are POCSO rules? 

It is a gender neutral law

If the abuse is not reported, it is considered an offence

There is no pre set time limit to report an abuse

The  victim’s identity should be maintained with confidentiality

What is the punishment for abusing a child?

The offender shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment, not less than three years but which may be extended up to ten years and shall also be liable to heavy fine.

Is POCSO only for kids?

Yes, POSCO is applicable to kids until the age of 18 years.

Is hitting a child a crime?

Whenever a child is assaulted, abused, exposed or neglected in a manner to cause physical or mental suffering, it is considered a crime.

Can Pocso's case be dismissed?

According to the latest update from the supreme court, a POSCO statement cannot be dismissed 

How long is Pocso punishment?

The offender must undergo a sentence of 10 years imprisonment according to the Posco punishment

Deepika Sodhi

A highly motivated and dedicated educator with nearly 24 years of teaching experience, Ms. Deepika Sodhi is the Academic Supervisor for International Curricula at Global Indian International School (GIIS) SMART Campus, Singapore.

Ms. Sodhi has a rich experience of teaching Physics across curricula such as the IB, Cambridge IGCSE and CBSE. She has served as an Exam Officer for Cambridge Assessment International Education. Currently, she is an IB Assessment Officer, and a member of International Schools Network and International Baccalaureate Educator Network.

In her free time, Ms. Sodhi enjoys writing blogs, creating guiding material for training staff and community service.

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