Schoolchildren taught to avoid sexual assault

Updated: 2013-05-30 03:44

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Eighteen elementary schools in Shanghai have started a course on self-protection to keep children from falling victim to sexual assault.

"Recent cases of child molestation were committed by school faculty. Kids usually take no precautions against people they believe are kind, but this may also be a source of danger," said Ding Limin, headmaster of the Primary School Affiliated with the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology and a founder of the course in the schools.

A primary school principal and a government employee in Wanning, Hainan province, were detained on May 14 on suspicion of sexually assaulting six schoolgirls. Yang Shifu, a teacher in Nanyang, Henan province, was detained on May 23 on suspicion of molesting female students since early last year.

On Tuesday in Ding's school, teacher Zheng Rongqin illustrated the question of "Who might hurt me?" with six pictures of a teacher, a policeman, a relative, a neighbor, a stranger and an express delivery person to the school's second-grade students. Zheng teaches sex education.

Most kids categorized relatives and neighbors as people who are good to them, "and some even doubt someone is a real policeman if he harms them. This shows children believe no policeman is evil," Zheng said.

Child protection experts said acquaintances are the culprits in the majority of child sexual harassment incidents and molestations. More than 2,500 girls younger than age 15 had been sexually assaulted in Guangdong province from 2010 to 2012, and two-thirds of the assailants were people the girls knew, according to the provincial women's federation.

Zheng told the students not to judge people by appearances. "It's like you might find a shiny apple is rotten inside after cutting it open."

They wanted to tell the kids this it is a beautiful world, but there are bad things, Ding said. "One single case of molestation might make a child suffer for a lifetime, so we feel obligated to offer such education."

Children were also encouraged to tell their mothers if some one approached them in a strange manner, and to tell white lies to get away from people who strike up strange conversations.

Shen Shuxuan, 9, said the course gave her "a stronger defense" and she likes the scenario simulation in particular, such as what you will say when a physical education teacher asks you to remain behind alone and clear up the changing room.

Shen said she would obey the teacher after notifying her parents. "But if the teacher looks weird, I'll leave immediately, even if he gets mad because safety comes first," she said.