Doctors’ plan to shield children from sexual abuse

August 5th, 2008 - 12:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jeevan Mathew Kurian
Kozhikode, Aug 5 (IANS) A group of doctors here has come out with an action plan to sensitise parents and teachers to protect children from sexual abuse, incidents of which are on the rise and often unreported, they say. The Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) here and paediatricians of Kozhikode Medical College under the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) have come out with a module to help teachers and parents to train children how to guard against sexual abuses.

“We thought of such an initiative after we came across some cases of child abuse at the child development service unit of IMHANS. The paediatricians of (Kozhikode) Medical College wholeheartedly joined us to launch the initiative,” P. Krishnakumar, psychiatrist and the director IMHANS, told IANS.

The module brought out by the doctors has four sections. It explains how the children in different age groups, from pre-school to high school, are to be trained to identify undesirable liaisons.

“We are coming across more cases of sexual abuses nowadays. Some children who are brought for unexplained fear or sudden disinterest in studies, headache or stomach ache are found to be victims of abuse,” said M. Vijayakumar, the president of Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), Kozhikode unit and a doctor at the medical college here.

“A girl who was brought to us did not allow male doctors to examine her. When we investigated further it was found that she was sexually abused.”

To give the final touch to the module under preparation, the doctors are organising an interaction with schoolteachers this week.

“We will present the module before them and after due consultation, will make changes if found necessary,” said Krishnakumar.

“Our plan is to cover the districts of Kozhikode, Malappuram and Wayanad under the initiative. The scheme will formally be launched Thursday,” Vijayakumar told IANS.

The IAP has also readied a slide show to enlighten doctors in rural areas so that they can identify sexual abuse cases more easily. The compact disc of this slide show will be distributed among the doctors.

“We are also planning classes in schools. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA, Education for All) authorities are interested in the scheme and have offered their support,” said Krishnakumar. The SSA is India’s flagship programme for universal elementary education.

The doctors say that many cases of child abuse go unreported as in a majority of cases the abusers are close relatives.

“When we tell the parents about the real cause behind their child’s problem they readily cooperate with us for treatment. But they request us to keep it confidential as in most cases the culprits are close relatives. They apprehend family problems if the truth comes out,” said Vijayakumar.

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