The Kerala High Court has expressed concern over “the alarming rise in the number of sexual offenses against schoolchildren” and ordered the state government and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to make compulsory sexual abuse prevention orientation programs.
The Kerala court ordered the state and the CBSE to form an expert panel to determine how to deliver an age-appropriate prevention and counseling program on sexual abuse. The committee must submit its recommendations within six months. The state and CBSE are to issue orders to implement the prevention program beginning in the next academic year.
Bench Judge Bechu Kurian Thomas made the directions while considering a bail application in a case involving the rape of a 15-year-old girl. In a statement to police, the minor said she was in a relationship with the petitioner and that they intended to marry.
Mandatory School Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs
The Kerala High Court had previously raised concerns over how teenagers were ignoring the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO). He called for schools to be made aware of the POCSO law and sexual abuse.
During the hearing, the state government, CBSE and Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA) briefed the court on the steps taken to educate the children. The measures consisted of awareness courses but the expected results were not achieved.
The court said: “The now popular Sex Crimes Awareness Procedure has not yielded the desired results as it unfortunately does not meet the requirements.” He further added that teaching students about “good touch” and “bad touch” needed to be more nuanced. The court said the terms “good contact” and “bad contact” were deemed too ambiguous.
The bench further suggested that terms with better categorization be used instead, such as ‘safe touch’, ‘dangerous touch’ and ‘unwanted touch’ so that children can identify abuse and avoid false or misguided accusations. . The High Court further added that it was trying to instill in the minds of government and school authorities that a more functional procedure was needed to raise awareness of the POCSO Act and to impart knowledge about the harmful effects of sexual abuse. .
Noting that in many cases of sex offenses committed against school children, the perpetrators are young people, Kerala HC said: “Sometimes sexual acts are committed with the belief that the consent of both partners is sufficient to absolve them of crime. By the time they realize their assumptions were wrong notions, it is too late.
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