Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (GSCPCR) has called upon all to observe Child Safety Week from November 14 to 20, 2023 as a collaborative movement to raise awareness and encourage collective action on the issue of child sexual abuse.
The Commission has endorsed Child Safety Week, the initiative of Arpan, an award-winning national NGO, which initiated the observance in 2019 and which now has taken the shape of people-led movement.
In a media release, GSCPCR Peter Borges said, “The state has witnessed growing crimes against children, especially sexual abuse in recent times. Every child deserves to be safe and all of us have the shared responsibility of a child’s protection and safety from unsafe situations and people. Many children suffer silently from the trauma of it. Our silence is not helping our children. It is reinforcing it. Speaking about it will break the silence.”
Peter Borges, GSCPCR
Child safety week has several days which focus on child abuse and children – November 14: Children’s Day India, Nov 18: World Day for Prevention, Healing and Justice to End Childhood Sexual Violence; Nov 19: World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Nov 20: World Children’s Day.
“Observance of the week is a good time for organisations to move beyond symbolic gestures and implement effective child protection practices and policies. That would be a more meaningful way to honour children under our care and protection,” Borges added and called upon educational institutions, corporates, leaders of social and political organizations, including elected leaders, faith leaders, social influencers to come together for the purpose.
This year’s objective of Child Safety Week is to help adults understand that ‘It’s Okay To Say No’ and to challenge the cultural norm of saying ‘Yes’, thus ensuring the safety of children.
Peter Borges, GSCPCR
The release added, “We live in a world where saying ‘Yes’ is the cultural norm and saying ‘No’ is equated to being disrespectful, disobedient, rude and selfish. This prevailing culture makes it difficult for many of us to say ‘No’, teach our children to say ‘No’ and accept a ‘No’ from others. Our children are conditioned to obey everyone, especially adults, unquestionably even if they are uncomfortable and unsafe. It is imperative that we say ‘Yes’ to children’s well-being and safety by accepting that ‘It is okay to say ‘No’.”
The theme aims to help to understand that to be safe, children need skills to communicate their personal boundaries and refuse assertively. They have to be taught to say ‘No’ assertively when they feel uncomfortable, unsafe, pressured or when someone crosses their personal boundaries. Adults too have to accept that it is okay for children to say ‘No’ in matters concerning their well-being and safety.
The release add that there is need to inspire and encourage adult stakeholders to understand that ‘it’s okay to say No’, break the culture of saying ‘Yes’, protect children and teach them assertive refusal skills when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable along with handling disclosures effectively and conducting awareness sessions with other adults, especially parents.
Arpan will be providing e-certificates to all participants as a token of recognition for institutions for their contribution to the campaign. To receive an e-certificate, details must be shared on the link at - https://forms.gle/f399YxzjUB3vec8c9