Come Next Year, Schools in Bengal to Include Classes on 'Good and Bad Touch' to Deal with Sexual Abuse

Kolkata: In a bid to deal with the menace of sexual harassment, the West Bengal government has decided to include ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ courses in the school syllabus from the next academic session.

The school education department has roped in the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Child Relief and You (CRY) to implement the project.

The introduction of the concepts of ‘good and bad touch’ in schools would be done in a phased manner. “Initially, the project will be covered in more than 300 schools in Kolkata, Howrah, North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas, Malda and West Midnapore. The target age-group will be four to 12 years,” an official attached with this project said.

“We don’t want to complete this project in a haste. This is a serious matter and we want to complete it in a proper way to protect children from any kind of sexual harassment. Once we are done in the selected districts, we will move on to another five to six districts,” he added.

The syllabus will have two parts — one for the students and the other for guardians, teachers and school staff.

As far as students are concerned, the focus would be on understanding their psychology, change in behaviour and how to react during physical training sessions inside or outside the school.

“We have introduced a paragraph on children going for swimming classes. We have highlighted that they should not allow anyone to touch the uncovered parts of their body except their parents. Even in case of doctors, they should allow them to touch an injured area only in front of their parents. There is a line where we are asking them to shout for help without any hesitating if someone touches them inappropriately,” the official said.

School teachers and parents would be asked to communicate with children through storytelling to know whether they have been touched improperly, harassed or assaulted by anyone.

They (teachers and parents) would also be asked to be alert if someone tries to be over friendly with students/children and tries to interact with him/her alone.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s report for 2016, crime against children had increased by nearly 11% between 2015 and 2016 and Bengal registered the highest number of such cases.

In 2017, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had conducted a survey that came up with some shocking revelations. It found that more than 50% children they interacted with or surveyed had faced some form of sexual abuse.