To create awareness among children regarding sexual harassment in educational institutions, the State government is planning to prepare an orientation module for use by schools to impart knowledge about Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and to improve safety in schools.
In order to protect students from sexual harassment at the institutional level, the government had recently issued protective guidelines on “students’ safety and protection from sexual violence”. A senior official said the orientation module to be prepared for schools might also be in the students’ syllabus to increase awareness about Pocso Act.
“Student Safety Advisory Committee has to be set up in each school to monitor their safety and wellbeing. A control room will be set up at DPI with a toll-free hotline and private email facility to receive complaints specifically pertaining to sexual harassment and violence at schools from students, parents and others,” he said.
A self-audit module has also been formulated which has to be filled up by schools and safety boxes should be placed in school premises for students to lodge complaints and give feedback.
A round-the-clock toll-free helpline with a five-seat capacity has been set up in DPI campus to provide information, guidance and counselling for students. “This is a single-point contact for students, teachers and parents across the State to get their grievances redressed,” the official said. The Tamil Nadu State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) would prepare a comprehensive orientation module for both students and teachers on Pocso and JJ Acts.
This initiative came about after officials from the council and Juvenile Justice Committee held a meeting early last year on ensuring the safety of children in schools during which it was suggested that relevant information on the two Acts could be included in textbooks from middle school to higher secondary stage, said an official from SCERT.