Published: 28th October 2017
Child Welfare Committee, NGOs in Kerala are using music, drama to help kids combat cyberbullying
A recent report released by UNICEF says 134 Million children have mobile phones in India and Kerala
The UNICEF released a report called 'Child Online Protection in India'. It maps the existing laws on safeguarding children from online exploitation, flags the lacunae and puts forward recommendations to ensure cyber safety.
According to the report, about 134 million children have mobile phones in India. With the broadband expansion, these children will have faster access to the Internet by 2017. In terms of mobile penetration children in Kerala have far more access to smartphones than those from other states. This increases the chances of cyber-bullying.
We provide awareness classes and counselling sessions with the help of the police department
Fr Joy James, CWC chairman
In Kerala, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) has the mandate of providing relief to children who have suffered from cyber-bullying. "We provide awareness classes and counselling sessions with the help of the police department," said CWC chairman Fr Joy James.
The Parent-Teacher Association in city schools has also approached various NGOs to conduct awareness classes.
After an initial hesitation, most of the children that they had experienced cyber-bullying. However, some were smart enough to avoid bullies. But there were also victims. Many were depressed and their studies suffered, as a result
Anson PD Alexander, Kanal president
Kanal, a charitable organisation working in the field of child welfare, started a programme called 'Kalapila'. A group of volunteers from Kanal recently conducted a session with students of the Government Cotton Hill School. The volunteers sang songs and conducted plays to highlight the issue. The purpose was to make the students talk about cyber-bullying and to provide solutions.
Later, the volunteers were surprised by the responses. "After an initial hesitation, most of the children that they had experienced cyber-bullying. However, some were smart enough to avoid bullies. But there were also victims. Many were depressed and their studies suffered, as a result," said Kanal president Anson PD Alexander.
Not surprisingly, the students wanted to know of ways to shut out the bullies. The NGO plans to train a few students to help their classmates.
"We are getting requests from various schools to conduct Kalapila sessions. Our focus, however, is to increase the confidence we have created among the students where we had at least one session," said Anson.
Kanal also conducted 'safe touch' sessions, to provide a check on sexual abuse. So far, they have trained 500 children in 20 schools in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, with the support of the Kerala State Council for Child Welfare.