Govt introduces booklet on children’s safety

LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to create awareness on children’s safety by introducing a 24-point booklet which will be distributed among teachers and parents. This was stated by Punjab School Education Minister Rana Mashhood.

The minister announced the move in a press conference on Wednesday at the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board (PCTB). School Education Department (SED) special secretary and PCTB managing director were also present during the press conference.

Mashhood said that the booklet, called Pakeeza Zindagi, was the first phase of an awareness campaign initiated to curb child abuse in the province. He said that initially, 400,000 booklets would be published and distributed among parents and teachers. He announced that different books for different levels of education including primary, elementary, secondary and higher would be published.

“We will also send it to different organisations for feedback. Teachers and parents are important stakeholders and after they go through the booklet, seminars and other awareness steps will also be taken. It will then be included in the curriculum after consultation and approval from all the stakeholders.”

He said that material related to stopping child abuse would be made part of school curriculum so that no one could dare exploit innocent children. He said the move was initiated after the Kasur incident and a committee was constituted to take measures about prevention of child molestation and awareness about safety and security of children.

“We are working on a system which will ensure a nationwide alert if any child goes missing,” he added. In this regard, he said, a committee had been constituted which had decided that the Child Protection Bureau would be responsible for dealing with psychological problems of the victim children.

“This topic is considered a taboo in our society. When a case of child molestation occurs, parents of the child usually try to hide the incident. The booklet will guide them on how to approach it through legal means.”

Mashhood said that the booklet included chapters on Islamic rights of children, health and physical wellbeing and corporal punishment. The booklet would also include information on side effect of early marriages, he added. He said that the government was also going to start regular parent-teacher meetings at government schools to discuss the overall situation of child– not just about their academic performance but also other problems if any. “The booklet also focuses on the aftermath of such incidents and the effect on parents and families,” he added.

He said that the material in the booklet was made by concerted efforts of educationists, psychologists and clerics while their reservations about the topic were also taken into consideration. He said that teachers would also be trained in light of this booklet. “Now we need to create awareness about this booklet and media is the best tool for that,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2018.

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