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Schools and educational institutions play a significant role in building a nurturing environment for children to grasp their core values. It is important to note that this is also where we can prevent future abusive behaviour in children by instilling the right attitude in them and ensuring they have access to correct information, particularly regarding health, sex, gender, and myths.
Educational institutions can be unwanted accomplices to the perpetuation of child sexual abuse without the correct preventive mechanisms, proper training, and sensitisation. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that school management and staff understand their responsibility with respect to the basic provisions under The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
In 2015, The Central Board of Secondary Education had published a circular regarding the role of schools and gender-sensitive learning in reference to the POCSO Act, 2012. The circular highlighted the following points:
- Teachers, management, and all employees of institutions need to be made aware of the provisions of the POCSO Act, some of which cast a duty on them to report instances of child abuse, as in Sections 19(1) and 21.
- In-house induction sessions should be held for all teachers to include a specific module on gender sensitisation.
- Schools must ensure and promote a harmonious school/classroom environment and inclusiveness.
- Provisions for guidance and counselling facilities in schools.
- Programmes for the empowerment of girls.
- Training programmes for residential schools.
- Formation of School Complaint Committee.
- Schools should provide a complaint/suggestion box for easy access to children in filing any such complaint.
- Provisions for CCTV cameras.
- 10. Schools should display a toll-free number and child helpline on its notice board along with the name and contact information of teachers in charge of handling such cases.
“School management and staff are expected to create awareness and participate in averting such offences as part of their foremost duty.”
To read more about it please refer to the circular here:- https://www.cbse.gov.in/circulars/POCSO%20Circular_2015.pdf; and a handbook by National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development here:- https://www.nipccd.nic.in/file/reports/pocso12.pdf.
Sections 19(1) and 21 of the POCSO Act, 2012 imposes duties on teachers, management, and all employees of institutions to report instances of child abuse. Failure to do the same is punishable with imprisonment, which may extend to six (6) months or fine, or both.
A person in charge of an institution is also required to report the commission of the offence that may have been committed by a subordinate under their control under the POCSO Act. Failure to do the same is punishable with imprisonment for a maximum term of one (1) year and a fine.
The judgments of Kamal Prasad Patade v. State of Chhattisgarh & Balasaheb Alias and Suryakant Yashwantrao Mane v. the State of Maharashtra, clearly indicate that persons who are in charge of educational institutions must report as they shoulder an additional burden to ensure the safety of the child in question, due to the nature of the position they hold while administering institutional-level inquiries into the matter.
Where to report?
- Childline – 1098 (It is a 24/7 emergency phone outreach service for children in crisis which links them to emergency and long term care and rehabilitation services. It is a toll-free number)
- Police – 100 [The case can be reported in the local police station or SJPU (Special Juvenile Police Unit)]
- POCSO e-box NCPCR
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This Blog has been written by Falguni Singh. Falguni is a graduate of RGNUL, Punjab. She is an advocate for Children’s Rights and Women’s Rights and has a knack for learning besides extensive research work.
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