Child sexual abuse is an ever-present societal concern, that mandates collective awareness and action. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act is a vital legal framework designed to safeguard children from sexual exploitation. In this article, we provide a detailed review of the recent two-day POCSO workshop, exploring the psycho-social aspects and legal perspectives of child sexual abuse.
The facilitation was undertaken by a mental health professional who regularly works with survivors of child sexual abuse as well as an advocate who has worked as a Support Person, and thus provided ground level insights on implementation of the law at various stages of the investigation and trial. The key takeaways from each day and the overall impact is highlighted below:
Day 1: Psycho-social influence on Child Sexual Abuse
A brief introduction of the participants highlighted the range of experienced mental health professionals, social workers, teachers etc. as well as concerned citizens who were attending to expand on their understanding and also provide pertinent insights from their years of experience working with children.
Some of the key insights were:
Risk factors and identifying them early: The discussions unfolded around the pervasive nature of child sexual abuse in the country and understanding various factors that increase vulnerability of children.
Perpetrators and tactics used: Identifying unsafe people around a child and the predatory behaviours exhibited by them was discussed in detail to empower early detection of unsafe company around children.
Child-Centric Solutions: Participants learned that a child-centric approach is vital in better understanding each child as it involves active listening, creating a safe environment to allow them to express themselves.
Understanding Trauma and necessary Approach: The need for sensitivity, empathy, and a deep understanding of trauma’s long-lasting effects was also highlighted during the session.
Support Systems: The workshop underscored the importance of support systems, including counseling, therapy, awareness, and access to medical care. The psychological well-being of children and avoidance of victim blaming tactics were underlined during the session.
Day 2: Legal Perspective of POCSO Act
The second day of the workshop shifted focus to the legal aspects of child sexual abuse, specifically examining the POCSO Act. Key insights from this day include:
Understanding the POCSO Act: Participants gained a comprehensive understanding of the POCSO Act, its objectives, and the legal procedures involved in child sexual abuse cases.
Role of state authorities: The workshop highlighted the crucial role played by law enforcement agencies and the judiciary in handling POCSO cases. Effective investigation, collection of evidence, and timely action were stressed as essential components of justice. Moreover, ensuring that courtrooms are child-friendly environments, in compliance with the law, was also discussed as a significant aspect of the legal process.
Support persons: The importance of making support mechanisms available to the children and their families was detailed. This included the free services available to children before and during the trial in court.
Sentencing and Rehabilitation: The legal perspective also addressed the sentencing of accused and children in conflict of law, along with the intersection of different laws in dealing with children in need of care and protection along with children in conflict with the law.
The two-day POCSO certification workshop for child sexual abuse awareness successfully combined a deep exploration of the psycho-social aspects of child sexual abuse with a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework provided by the POCSO Act. The success of the workshop was amplified by the interaction and insights of the participants.
Throughout the workshop, the commitment of the participants to creating a safer environment for children was evident. The insights gained, ranging from trauma-informed approaches to the intricacies of the POCSO Act, provided valuable tools in the collective effort to combat and redress child sexual abuse.
As a group, the importance of community involvement, the need for sensitivity and empathy when dealing with survivors, and the critical role of education and awareness in prevention was underlined and reiterated. In conclusion, the two-day POCSO certification workshop was an essential step forward in the fight against child sexual abuse. It empowered participants with knowledge, strategies, and a renewed commitment because the shared principle across the board was that every child deserves a safe childhood.