Hyderabad: To create awareness and provide a platform for children to report atrocities against them, the Cyberabad Police is planning to take up an initiative ‘Bala Mithra’.
As part of it, a teacher from each school, both private and government, will be trained to act as a friend of the children and be available to extend a helping hand to those who end up facing abuse or harassment. Apart from frequent interactions with the children at schools, a Bala Mithra will also act as a bridge between the children in need of help and SHE Teams in case of child abuse instances.
In schools where a designated counsellor is available, that person would be designated as Bala Mithra. Police said child sexual abuse was a serious crime which, in several cases, does not get reported due to lack of awareness among children, both girls and boys.
“They are the silent victims. Many times, it is hushed up by the family due to social stigma. For such victims, teachers will be one option to confide. Thus, it is important that teachers are sensitised on these issues,” said VC Sajjanar, Police Commissioner, Cyberabad.
As per Section 21 of the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, it is the responsibility of the school to report immediately to the police any case of child sexual abuse that comes to their notice, and a punishment of six months imprisonment or fine or both is prescribed for not reporting.
“It is this teacher or counsellor who immediately informs SHE Teams any case of child sexual abuse being brought to their notice. Further action will be taken for registering the case with the local police,” Sajjanar said.
A meeting with all the teachers and counsellors nominated as Bala Mitra is being planned to sensitise them on child issues. “Our SHE Teams will be in touch with them,” the Commissioner said. This programme is also an attempt to help teachers and counsellors achieve required competency in dealing with cases under the POCSO Act.
Apart from this, the Cyberabad police have also launched a WhatsApp (9490617444) window for reporting child sexual abuse. They requested citizens to report such crimes directly or call the respective SHE Teams or mail [email protected] or on their Facebook page.