Estimated read time : 4 minutes
So many educational institutions have been in the spotlight recently for all the wrong reasons. Molestation, rape, and violence against children are increasingly coming to the surface. Every time such incidents are reported, it puts the spotlight on ‘good touch and bad touch’ and the role of Child Care centres and schools in dealing with it.
Any responsible and professionally managed child care centre or play school will introduce the concept of good touch or bad touch to children upwards of three years of age. But their responsibility does not end there. Despite all the discussions and educative programs, children are sometimes unable to differentiate between a genuinely affectionate touch and a potentially dangerous one. The challenge for the child care service provider lies in being sensitive, without being anxious. Because anxiety clouds judgment and takes away clarity. While being sensitive to the concerns of the parents helps deal with this delicate matter with empathy.
Touch is the best response and expression of love and care. For infants and toddlers, a loving touch can work wonders – it soothes, it assures and it gives a sense of security. But there is always that line between what is acceptable and what is not. It is every caregiver and educator’s toughest challenge – to instil a sense of security without giving any scope for anxiety or alarm. child care centres, where children spend long hours away from their family eating, sleeping, changing and often after school hours, need to be extra vigilant. They need to ensure complete transparency when it comes to monitoring the children. In fact, most parents who are hesitant to sign up for day care, have a deep – seated fear of exposing their children to potential perverts, even in some of the most reputed places.
Here is a checklist that parents can use while selecting a childcare provider:
Does the centre have a sense of openness in the way the rooms are laid out? Every room should have large windows so that children and their caregivers can be constantly monitored and seen from outside. Fewer dimly lit nooks and corners, and more visibly open spaces, even indoors should be the norm.
Every inch of the centre where children have access, should be monitored by CCTV cameras. Live streaming from the areas where the child performs activities, the dining area, sleeping areas, play areas should be made available to the parents.
Look out for schools that encourage children to develop buddy groups and know who all can be considered a part of a safe circle. If they are unhappy or troubled, they can always speak to a mother, father, grandparent or teacher.
Some play schools even share ‘No touch live videos and talk shows’ to help parents and children recognize a good touch or bad touch. Visual examples help kids understand better.
The quality of the staff, their training and ability to handle delicate situations can only be assessed after face to face interactions. Do not go by the brochures. See for yourself. The adult-child ratio is another key parameter for making your decision.
According to family counselor Dr Kanchan Gurtu: “Even if parents feel bad about exposing young children to the concept of sexual harassment, teaching them about good and bad touch is essential these days. Studies show if we can sensitize our kids about sexual advances during childhood, they grow up to be confident and emotionally strong.” But he also puts in a cautionary note: “Never create a situation where a child starts viewing every man approaching as an intruder or interpreting every touch as a bad touch.”
A safe environment for children can be created only when all stakeholders in a child’s well-being – parents, educators, care givers, employers – acknowledge the criticality of working with the right people in the right kind of physical space.