Workshop Teaches Children How to Guard Against Sexual Abuse
This article is part of a spotlight on child sex abuse in China.
In a classroom in Beijing, a volunteer from the Girls’ Protection project is helping a group of 8- and 9-year-olds learn how to protect themselves from sexual assaults.
The rules are explained simply and carefully: If a person wants to touch your “private parts,” then you have the right to say “No.”
“Which parts of your body are private?” asks the volunteer teacher.
Some children don’t know, while others hazard a guess, trying to find the right words to describe areas of the body no one ever talks about. Then one girl answers: “It should be the parts covered by your underwear, right?”
That’s the easiest way to answer the question in a country where sex education is not in the school curriculum and many parents avoid the subject altogether.
Founded in 2013, the non-governmental organization Girls’ Protection aims to protect young girls in China from sexual abuse.
Started by a group of female reporters after a series of shocking cases were exposed by the media, the project runs workshops, organizes educational campaigns, and funds research to aid the fight against sexual assaults on minors.
Last year, Girls’ Protection polled more than 4,700 students, and 40 percent of respondents could not identify their private parts.
“The general reaction from children across the country is that they’ve never had a class like this,” said Sun Xuemei, founder of Girls’ Protection. “Many had no idea about this information.”
“Parents should be responsible for passing on knowledge, but sadly our survey showed that more than 60 percent have never talked to their children about how to protect their private parts,” Sun told Sixth Tone.
During the workshop, the volunteer asks a female student to join in a role-playing activity. The child learns to say: “I’m not even 14 years old, do you want to go to jail?”
(Header image: A girl reads a booklet during a Girls’ Protection workshop in Beijing, Oct. 20, 2014. Beijing Times/IC)