“My child remains silent and aloof for most hours in a day. However, I could never imagine that one of the reasons could be abuse. I have heard about these issues before but it never striked my mind that it can happen with my child also. Today’s session has increased my awareness and confidence to talk to my daughter and will help me render support to my own children and also other children in the community.”
-Pradip*, Neetu*s father and a participant in the sensitization training program
Protecting children from any kind of abuse and harm is at the core of Miracle Foundation’s work. It is crucial to understand that protecting children cannot be one man’s or an organization’s responsibility, on the contrary, it is a shared responsibility of the community and each one of us. The parents, organizations, government, community stakeholders, community volunteers, and members, everyone needs to join hands to give every child a safe and nurturing childhood irrespective of all the variables.
In an effort to take this idea to the community, one of our partners Child Care Institution (CCI) in Tripura undertook awareness-building sessions in the community to sensitize the community stakeholders on child protection. The CCI team conducted a total of 13 such sessions, covering 6 Panchayats in 3 blocks of West Tripura district, over the span of the last 3 months. The awareness sessions were conducted with ground-level ICDS officials including Anganwadi Workers, Anganwadi Helpers, ASHAs, and some community people.
The sessions aimed at breaking stereotypes, increasing the level of awareness among frontline workers and community people about child rights, violations of child rights including the incidents of child marriages, sexual abuse (signs and symptoms), identifying and supporting children who have experienced abuse, reporting mechanism including awareness about the National Hotline No. for children 1098 and the role of all the community stakeholders in protecting children.
The need for such initiative was felt in the backdrop of Tripura being a hotbed for child marriages and child sexual abuse including the abuse of minor boys and incest and marital rapes. Many children land up in institutions after being abused as the authorities feel children are not safe within their families/community, especially after such incidents. It has also been observed that many young boys (15-17-year-olds) below 18 years of age land up in observation homes under the juvenile justice system and are labeled as juvenile delinquents being involved in such acts. To reduce these incidents and protect our children, it becomes paramount to do everything that we can. Raising awareness and educating the masses about these issues is one such and perhaps a very important step in this direction.
Through these awareness sessions, we reached out to approximately 200 ground-level workforce and community members. The sessions were well received by the participants and we have seen positive outcomes from these. If there is any such incident reported, the AWWs and ASHAs reach out to Childline pro-actively to report the incident. One of the participants shared during a session “Now, these 200 officials and community members are in the process of spreading awareness on child protection to many more stakeholders and members of the community.”
The ripple effect of such initiatives is impressive to imagine. By making the masses aware, we are ensuring timely reporting and subsequent action on any incidents of child abuse that may happen in the community. At the same time, with increased awareness levels, we are contributing to preventing any such incidents from happening in the first place.
Children are sent to CCIs due to various reasons, mostly solvable, child safety is one of the reasons for child separation. These sensitization programs will help the parents, relatives, caregivers and the community to understand the issue deeply and enable them to identify any such violation and take action. Hence, preventing child separation to an extent.
Miracle Foundation India