Soroptomist International Ipoh and Perak Women for Women Society (PWW) were hosts to a group of 118 representative teachers from the district of Larut Matang and Selama for a one-day workshop called “OK TAK OK”. This workshop whose aim is to teach children what is and what is not acceptable behaviour from adults, had won an International Huright Osaka Award in 2005.
They enlisted the expertise of trained counsellors Dr. Prema Devaraj (Programme Director for WCC) and Ms. Tasha Merican (Project Officer WCC) to train and share their knowledge with the teachers from Malay, Chinese and Tamil schools on how to recognize the signs displayed by a sexually abused child and how to handle the situation without causing alarm to the child. This workshop was targeted at teachers because teachers are often the ones who are able to spot changes in their pupil’s behaviour.
Statistics show that 85% of sexually abused children knew their perpetrators and Perak has the fourth highest incidences of rape and incest in the country.
The programme which is conducted in a very sensitive and informative manner is designed for standard 5/6 pupils so the teachers were all asked to look at the video from the eyes of a 12 year old. The video was 28 minutes long and contained 4 short cartoons and 3 video scenarios involving the acceptable and not acceptable behaviour of adults towards children. Dr. Prema said that recognizing a child who is sexually abused is not as easy as it seems but from the video one is able to pick up clearly, especially from facial expressions, body language and general changes in behaviour, that something is amiss.
The only way to recognize this is through observation. These children often become quiet and withdrawn. Sometimes they even become disruptive.
If children are taught what is and what is not acceptable behaviour from this very easy education programme, we may be able to stop some of the sexual abuse suffered by these innocent children. Children should be encouraged to speak up and inform their peers, parents, friends etc. All too often the very people the kids trust are the ones who let them down.
Soropomist International Ipoh will be working closely with Perak Women for Women and will continue to monitor and follow up with the schools. The next project will be held in Kuala Kangsar.