At last the giant Central Board of Secondary Education has woken up to the reality of teaching girls self defence through martial arts at school level. Many of us have been writing about how important it is to train girls in self defence, before teaching them how to cook and clean. Training them martial arts is as important as teaching them mathematics and English language. This is a much awaited step and we welcome it whole heartedly and congratulate the Board for taking this decision. The CBSE circular mentions about the increasing incidence of crimes against girls, and the consequent growing anxiety among parents, about the safety of their daughters, while sending them to school. Parents feel apprehensive and insecure about sending their wards to school by public or private transport. Recently in Nagpur itself a school bus driver strangulated a senior class girl student and killed her. Her body was dumped in a drain somewhere away from the city areas and was found badly disfigured. Her parents identified her body as that of their missing daughter. In another case which comes to mind is the rape of a seven year old girl child by the school bus driver inside the bus. She perhaps was the last child to be dropped home. Little boys are also vulnerable to sexual assault by adult offenders. It would to important to train little boys too in self defence methods. What are parents supposed to do under such circumstances when the driver of the school bus is held guilty of a crime of such proportions? A school bus driver should be a trusted person who carries children from school to their home in full safety. But it seems nobody can be trusted today, not even known people what to talk of strangers.
The circular aims to start the training from the first standard and makes it compulsory till standard tenth. This is wonderful to catch them young when they are flexible in mind and body. Self defence is not just about the body learning various methods of facing the opponent but much more. It is primarily and majorly about mental preparation. A tiny tot of six years of age can hardly fight off adult offenders if assaulted physically but a tiny tot would need to be mentally aware of her surroundings and understand the signs of danger that may be lurking. A child can sense danger which every kid is naturally tuned to as it has heightened sensitivities, a tiny tot can hence certainly pre-empt an attack. Kids need to be taught the difference between good people and bad people, a good touch and bad touch, not to trust a stranger at all, not to take any eatables from strangers, not to leave school with a stranger, never to be alone in a bus or van and many more such precautions. Though this sounds like corrupting the innocence of young children by telling them that adults are bad and no stranger to be trusted but unfortunately this is becoming a truth which needs to be told to children in simpler ways for their own safety.
Besides the school, mothers and fathers play a great role in educating their young ones for generating awareness in the minds of their wards about safety aspects. Sometimes offenders are not strangers but family members, close ones or distant relatives. How does one teach children whom to trust and whom not to trust? How to tell a child that a member of the family or a relative can also be a possible offender? This is too traumatic in thought and it feels like poisoning the child’s innocent mind but we have no options but to tell them some bitter truths. This is where the parent- child relationship comes into play and gets tested. Can you instil total confidence in your child to tell you each and every experience of hers at school or at home? Can you listen patiently to your child and can you trust your child to tell the truth? Many times children are afraid to tell or share with their parents their mishaps or bad experiences for they may expect a backlash or a blame or disbelief (in case the offender is a family member). This happens when parents instil too much “moral” fear in their child and do not have the guts to confront their relatives. A parent who can stand up for the welfare of their children is a strong and bold parent and such parents can instil confidence in the child.
Introduction to martial arts or self –defence techniques will heighten the awareness of self, develop self- confidence, inculcation of values of physical fitness and increased awareness of surroundings and sensitivities to negative cues. This will create a positive mindset with a built –in sense of security as well as the ability to take care of oneself. This will also give them the feeling that “Whoever it may be, I can fight and defend myself”