Teacher workshop on the POCSO Act

Posted by on Sep 21, 2023 in School News | Comments Off

A workshop on the “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act” (POCSO) was organized for the teachers on 14 September 2023. POCSO is a critical act aimed at safeguarding children from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.

Ms Vandana Tiwari, Head Teacher Primary, introduced the Act to the teachers highlighting the fact that cases related to sexual offences often go unreported due to inhibition and social stigma attached to them. This is particularly true when the perpetrator is a family member, as it becomes extremely difficult for children to confide in their parents or close ones.

In the past, the prosecution of sexual abuse cases followed different sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), such as IPC (1860) 375 for rape, IPC (1860) 354 for outraging the modesty of a woman, IPC (1860) 377 for unnatural offences, and so on. However, these measures had limitations as the IPC was not fully effective in protecting the child due to various loopholes. IPC 375 did not offer protection to male victims or anyone subjected to sexual acts of penetration other than traditional peno-vaginal intercourse. IPC 354 lacked a clear definition of modesty, carried a weak penalty, and was a compoundable offence. Moreover, it did not safeguard the modesty of male children. Consequently, the POCSO Act was established by parliament in 2012 to address these shortcomings.

During the workshop, School counsellor Ms Geetika explained the various types of sexual offences covered under the act. These include aggravated penetrative sexual assault, penetrative sexual assault, sexual harassment, and assault, among others. She also discussed the provisions of the act, emphasising that it applies to all children under the age of 18. The term “aggravated” is used when sexual assault occurs against a mentally ill child or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust, such as a doctor, teacher, policeman, or family member. It is crucial to take appropriate measures to prevent the child from being re-victimised by the judicial system. The act designates a police officer as a child protector during the investigation, ensuring that the process is as child-friendly as possible.

The workshop also focused on identifying signs of sexual abuse in children of various age groups. Ms. Geetika emphasised the importance of sensitisation training conducted by teachers, which includes teaching basic hygiene habits, discussing the meaning and significance of privacy, and more. It was also highlighted how schools can contribute to implementing the POCSO Act. Regular inspections should be conducted within the school premise to ensure the safety of the children.
Immediate reporting of any cases of abuse should be made obligatory for teachers, staff members, and counsellors after consulting the school principal.

Principal Mrs Joshi concluded the workshop by stating that teachers should strive to know their students well. A culture of “no touching” should be promoted in the classroom, and teachers should conduct themselves in a manner that encourages children to approach them without fear. Teachers must be observant and aware of each child. On an overall note, the workshop was very informative as it increased our awareness, thus making us understand the ways and means to deal with such sensitive issues.

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