Tehran Governorate Plans Early Education on Child Abuse

Tehran Governorate Plans  Early Education on Child AbuseTehran Governorate Plans  Early Education on Child Abuse

Young children are taught all sorts of ways to keep themselves safe. Starting at home, parents teach their kids to watch out for the hot stove or to look both ways before they cross the street. But, more often than not, personal body safety education is not taught until a child is much older -- or sometimes, when it is too late.

The Social Affairs Department at the Tehran Governorate is planning to pilot a project to equip preschool children with information and train them in personal safety skills. The project is about teaching children early to distinguish between healthy relationships and sexual abuse.

“For this purpose, a book on the subject matter was compiled by a university instructor and education will start in kindergartens and preschools across the country with 5,000 books distributed in the first pilot phase,” said Siavash Shahrivar, head of the department, ISNA reported.

The plan was proposed at the governorate’s Social Council, where it garnered majority of votes at the Social and Cultural Workgroup for implementation. It was also welcomed and encouraged by the Education Ministry. Additionally, the State Welfare Organization is cooperating, and the plan is projected to become a national protocol after the trial run is over.

“Thirty educational workshops have been held for 1,000 teachers,” in child protection efforts, Shahrivar added.

The content of the educational materials have been assessed in every way, and comply with Islamic religious teachings as well as national customs and values, he assured.

The safety of children worldwide is of paramount concern today given the increasing number of child abuse cases. All children have the right to live in an environment free from abuse and neglect.

As nearly 95% of sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness, preparing kindergarten and preschool students on ways to protect themselves through age-appropriate material and in a subtle way is the best way to keep them informed and safe.

Lessons for preschoolers and kindergarten students abroad are designed to get kids thinking and talking about the kind of intimacy that feels good and the kind that doesn’t.

Shahrivar said young kids must be educated and alert enough to know how to react when caught in a vulnerable or unpleasant situation.

  Lifelong Effect

Stressing that the existing taboos regarding sexual education can lead to irreversible damage among children, he lamented the absence of such information in the educational system, and said global research shows that 27% of adults who turned to immoral ways were molested in childhood.

“Teaching children about sexual abuse is vital, particularly since childhood experiences often leave a lifelong and often ruinous effect on an individual.”

The mass media plays a significant role in the successful execution of such projects and can help to further the cause. Public awareness campaigns are also instrumental.

Reports of child sexual abuse in the US have dropped 58% in the last two decades, due to more education, media exposure, and awareness among other factors, according to Dr. David Finkelhor, a leading researcher and director of the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes against Children Research Center.

According to a study by the UN (published in November 2006), “the most violent acts against children are carried out by people they know and should be able to trust, including parents, schoolmates, teachers, and employers.” The report also found that violence against children is usually linked to poverty, addiction, and psychological disorders. It can also stem from a lack of awareness about positive parenting methods or as a result of neglect.

Some strategies that global child sexual abuse prevention programs use include talking about body parts early, teaching children that some body parts are private, teaching them body boundaries and how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations and setting a code word they can use when they feel unsafe.

There is no foolproof way to protect children from sexual abuse, but there are steps parents or teachers can and should take to reduce this risk. Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable in talking to a parent or teachers if something isn’t right. When a child knows that their voice will be heard and taken seriously, it gives them the courage to speak up when something doesn’t feel right.