According to the National Crime Records Bureau of India, the number of cases registered for child sexual abuse raised from 8,904 in the year 2014 to 14,913 in the year 2015, under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act, 2012. Oftentimes, children are vulnerable for the lack of information and strategies to handle such situations.
How do you resist violence in such situations, when those receiving this violence are innocent, young people who don't have the vocabulary or the cognitive bandwidth to understand what is happening to them? We resist, with love. We resist by giving the children safe spaces, safety tools, freedom and the all-important message that they are the bosses of their bodies. Here's what that looks like:
Did you know that you are the boss of your body? Let’s break this down a little bit. The word boss means to be in charge. And so, when I say that you are the boss of your body, it simply means that you are the one in charge of your body! When you are in charge, you get to decide who comes close to you and who doesn’t.
One of the important things you should keep in mind when it comes to your body is the concept of touch. Very simply, touching means when two things come in close contact with one another. When it comes to our bodies, there are three kinds of touches: safe touches, unsafe touches and confusing touches.
A safe touch is one that makes us feel safe: like when your mama touches your forehead to check if you have a fever, or your papa pats your back for getting a good grade in math, or your teacher shakes your hand to congratulate you.
An unsafe touch is one that makes us feel unsafe: like when someone pushes you or pinches you, or when someone trips you or scratches you. An unsafe touch is also when someone touches your body in any of these three places: your chest, your bottom or the place between your legs. These three parts of your body are your private parts, and nobody is allowed to touch them – except, when either of your parents are giving you a bath, or, when a doctor is checking your body when you are unwellin the presence of your parents only.
A confusing touch is one that doesn’t quite feel safe, but you don’t know for sure if it is unsafe. For instance, if a person touches any part of your body and you don’t know if you feel safe although the touch doesn’t directly hurt you, it is confusing.
Whenever you find yourself facing an unsafe touch or a confusing touch, you need to follow a very simple rule called “No-Run-Tell.” This means, that you should say NO to the person who is touching you in an unsafe or confusing way, and then RUN to a safe adult, and then TELL the safe adult what happened.
Who is a safe adult? A safe adult is any grown up who makes you feel safe. It could be anyone: your mama, your papa, your grandparents, your teacher – it should be anyone who makes you feel safe.
One other important thing you should remember is: just like how it is wrong for anyone to touch your body in an unsafe or confusing way, it is wrong for them to ask you to touch their body, it is wrong of them to ask you to show your private parts to them, and it is wrong of them to show you their private parts. When any of these things happen, remember, No-Run-Tell.
With an emphasis on the concepts of safe and unsafe touches, body integrity and designating safe adults, we (The Red Elephant Foundation) collaborated with Indian home décor brand, Pinklay, and youth-led gender equality initiative, The Red Elephant Foundation have announced a collaboration in order to spread awareness on safety measures for children in the wake of child sexual abuse. The collaboration seeks to reach more children around the country to ensure their safety. Each plush toy sold under this collaboration will include four handouts on safe and unsafe touches, safe adults and body integrity for children. In order to do so, Pinklay has created and curated a line of “red elephant” plush toys, which will be sold on their website along with informational handouts relating to child safety and strategies for children to stay safe.Appu and his friends have an important message for children everywhere in the world.
To buy your very own Baby Appu, clickhere.
To read Appu's message, clickhere.
To download a copy of Appu's message, clickhere.
To download Appu's worksheets, clickhere.