Starting early: Encouraging anti violence programs in schools and colleges

Our schools and colleges prepare children for adulthood and beyond. Our children need to be prepared to take on the journey of adulthood, assimilating ideas and information, strengthening their views and beliefs of respect, cohabiting, encouraging diversity, and holistic development where there is a synchronous connection with body-mind-soul. But, are our universities and educational institutions showing preparedness in handing these begging demands of our time?

A lack of preparedness can lead us to a nation where child’s/adolescent/young adult’s mental health and wellbeing is at serious risk. There is a need to address sexism in teacher training, and pedagogy. The Verma Committee Report suggests that the practice to inculcate critical thinking in schools is critical, building on skill based approach to help children make informed decisions, and to change perceptions that are culturally rooted to the patriarchal belief systems.

Do our educational community feel empowered to talk about gender and sexuality, cultural sensitivity, bullying, age of consent and impact of appropriate-inappropriate sexual behaviour, safety against abuse? When do students get to understand the law that impact and influence them?

They are children today, adults tomorrow. Therefore, we need to start early. In a context where ignorance and misinformation can be life-threatening, sexuality education is the responsibility of education institutions. In its simplest interpretation, teachers in the classroom have a responsibility to act in partnership with parents and communities to ensure the protection and well-being of children and young people.

Sexual harassment continues to have a damaging impact on the educational experiences of many college students. Educational institutions must take on a leadership role in combating the problems of sexual harassment and discrimination in education. They must be viewed as exemplars of diversity and inclusiveness. Colleges and universities play an important role in influencing the attitudes and behaviours of young adults. At a time when colleges and universities are serving more students than ever, creating a campus climate that is free from bias and harassment is a necessary challenge for the higher education community.

Despite these complex inter-connectedness, learning institutions can become venues where harassment, ragging, bullying, teasing discrimination, assault prevail. Colleges and universities have work to foster a campus climate that is free from bias and harassment, promoting innovative strategies for building harassment-free campuses.

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