PANAJI: Goa SCPCR calls upon all, including educational institutions, corporates, leaders of various social and political organizations, including elected leaders of state government as well as local bodies, faith leaders, social influencers in the state of Goa to come together to observe Child Safety Week 2023, from 14th November – 20th November 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.
The state has witnessed growing crimes against children, especially sexual abuse in the recent times. Every child deserves to be safe and all of us has the shared responsibility of 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.
“We observe various other day with huge investment, but we forget the days meant for children. The child safety week has several days which has focus on child abuse and children, i.e., 14th November: Children’s Day, India’ 18th November: World Day for Prevention, Healing and Justice to End Childhood Sexual Violence; 19th November: World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse and 20th November: 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,” said Peter F. Borges, Chairperson, Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights
He added that this year the 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.
“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,” he said.
This theme aims to help to understand that to be safe, children need skills to communicate their personal boundaries and refuse assertively, teach children to say ‘No’ assertively when they feel uncomfortable, unsafe, pressured or when someone crosses their personal boundaries, accept that it is okay for children to say ‘No’ in matters concerning their well-being and safety without adults feeling threatened and respect children’s feelings without equating their ‘No’ with disobedience or disrespect, stop negative reinforcement by punishing children when they say ‘No’ and understand that it is not a child’s fault if they cannot say ‘No’ or refuse in an unsafe situation.
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 all the institution for their contribution to the campaign. To receive an e-certificate, details must be shared on the link at – https://forms.gle/f399YxzjUB3vec8c9