BENGALURU: Three Class 12 students from the city have released seven safety guidelines to help address the rising problem of child sexual abuse.
The trio, Khushal Jhajharia, Tanish Jain and Siddharth Mohan from St Joseph’s Boys High School, have created awareness about these tips in different schools and colleges in the city with their campaign ‘Oath for a Change,’ over the past three months. Their single-minded objective is to directly reach out to students about the malaise of child sexual abuse and educate them about ways they can put an end to it.
Too often when asked about what can be done to stop child abuse, many say that their responsibility starts and ends with taking part in protests, signing petitions and then complacently placing the blame on the government to take the necessary action, said Kushal.
He explained, “During the protest against the management of Vibgyor school, I had asked a few people what they would do to ensure this doesn’t happen again. They threw their hands up and said that it is the government’s responsibility.” Then those who wanted to bring about a change, didn’t know how to go about it, he said.
So instead of just being mute spectators, they decided to do something and started visiting schools. They trained children from Class 1 to 4 about ways they can avert any mishap by using the ‘Body Safety Guidelines.’ “The main problem is these children don’t know when something bad is done to them. So we provided them seven tips they can follow if they sense they are in trouble. We make them understand that they can turn towards the ‘Trusted Gang’ — father, mother and teacher.”
This apart, they have also visited Jyothi Nivas College, Mount Carmel College and Jain College and interacted with students as old as them. This has inspired many to take up the cause. “It is something along the lines of ‘Each one, take one.’ Each student has the onus to train one young kid in methods of self-protection,” said Tanish. They have left no stone unturned, have tapped college fests and started a Facebook page to initiate conversations.
Talking about the campaign, N Balasubramania, principal, Jain College, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, said, “The way these boys put across the subject, which is a raging issue at the moment, is commendable. They have been able to not only educate the students about how they can protect themselves from sexual abuse but have also motivated them to take up the cause.”
Concerted though their efforts are, the three boys lamented that they have faced many a roadblock along the way. “As we are below the age of 18, the laws don’t allow us to register our group. Because we don’t have any credentials, some of the schools that we visited have turned us down. They are uncooperative because we are just a bunch of kids. The principal of one particular school in Dasarahalli just showed us the door even without hearing us out completely,” said Siddharth.
Then there is the problem of finances. Right now, they sustain the activities using the money they receive from their parents. This hasn’t discouraged them, however. They are set to visit Chandra Public School and Deeksha College this week.
Each of them has a personal goal — Siddharth wants to join the corporate world, Tanish wants to do BCom and then work and Kushal wants to be a bureaucrat and a politician.
But they all want to take up social work in a more organised way. Said Siddharth, “First, we want to register the organisation so that we can streamline the activities and reach out to many more schools and colleges in the city as well as engage teachers and parents.”