by Debjani Bhattacharya
NERUL-MUMBAI, AUGUST 16, 2014: On Saturday, August 9, 2014 the teaching and non-teaching staff of Don Bosco Senior Secondary School Nerul, assembled in the A.V room on the 3rd Floor to attend the seminar on "Protecting Children against Sexual Abuse". The seminar began at its scheduled time. Fr. Anthony introduced the speaker Fr. Savio Silviera to the assembled staff. The seminar aimed at explaining the need to create a safe environment for their children, the laws that govern a child's safety and the punishment meted out to the perpetrators.
Fr. Savio began by explaining that abuse could be physical, moral, social, psychological, racial etc. The Statistics from Government of India suggest that 53% of children were sexually abused and that too by a person whom the child trusts. He explained that the safety of children in India is governed by "United Nations Convention on Right of the Child (1989), Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, and Protection of children from Sexual offences Act 2012.
He explained the nine crime list and the punishment meted if not proven innocent, as in crime against children the law states "Considered guilty till proven to be innocent". The session was an interactive one with a number of teachers clearing their doubts, whether their actions could be termed as a crime. Fr. Savio stated that after the seminar each attendee would be thinking from their own perspective while their thoughts ought to be from the perspective of a child.
The Seminar concluded at 10am with a Vote of Thanks that was delivered by the Primary Supervisor "Ms.Adarsh Gupta". Fr. Bonnie presented a token on behalf of the school to Fr. Savio. The attendees signed a petition stating that they had not, nor would they be a part of Child Abuse. The Seminar was an eye opener in many ways. It made the attendees take note that the canker of child abuse is spreading at an alarming rate. It made them aware that their role was not only restricted to be watchdogs but also report about any untoward incident in case it took place. It was suggested that the seminar should have been attended by all parents, would to be parents, people who work with children and for the children.