Life Skill Tip: Girl Boarders of SSD Residential Schools Get Lessons on Good & Bad Touch


Bhubaneswar : Prioritizing safety of students, especially girls, following their visit to homes in the wake of the summer vacation, the ST&SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department has launched a massive awareness campaign to make the girls know what is a good touch and bad touch.

It aims at educating the girls, ultimately getting them the tip that unless they are cautious and alert, abuse, sexual harassment and teenage pregnancies would continue to haunt the psyche, especially when they are staying away from their hostels during vacations.

Experts dealing with such problems of adolescent girls often point out that it’s the close family friends, relatives and even kin playing the spoilsports and the little ones suffer. So to make the awareness level felt with 1,736 residential SSD schools across Odisha with approximately 5,800 hostels and more than 5 lakh boarders, of which more than 50 percent are girls, the Department often finds its quite challenging to handle the situation. The vacations are the occasions where the incidents are likely to shoot up as the parents remain out with their livelihood and the girls at home remain vulnerable.


Commissioner-cum-Secretary ST&SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department Roopa Roshan Sahoo says “we have developed a clear strategy of paying attention through our listening windows and an idea given by our own staff during a “Mo Parikalpana” meet (a people connect initiative) to consider this strategy so that from this summer vacation the monitoring of the girls and awareness about good touch and bad touch could be a major focus area.”

Swarnalata Mohapatra, headmistress of Kandha Maligaon SSD Girls High School, Rayagada district during the “Mo Parikalpana” meet with the Department authorities had suggested this and her idea was implemented immediately.

“It also proves the point that the ST&SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department doesn’t always function in the top-down manner, but rather suggestions from the grassroots are also taken up and implemented” explained a senior official, adding “Mo Parikalpana is like a listening window to capture the voices from the field, so that the observations cited could lead to policy action.”

The ST and SC residential schools are run jointly by SSD Department and School and Mass Education Department. However, SSD Department has taken the lead and asked the trained matrons and assistant superintendents in conducting counselling sessions on good and bad touch, early (child) marriage, teenage pregnancies and on how to deal with any such situations, abuse or harassment and promptly report the same as this would help the authorities in solving the problem.



The Department has also asked the Sexual Harassment Committees (POCSO Committees) at these hostels to be on alert and cross verify facts by the officials concerned so that during the vacations these things could be monitored completely. It can be mentioned here that even after having a robust reporting mechanism in the SSD hostels, there are still sporadic instances of teenage pregnancies, sexual harassment and sexual abuse etc.

The matrons appointed in the girls hostel have been trained on “Life Skills” and also on techniques on how to  address  sensitive issues like behavioural changes amongst the adolescent girls, early marriage, teenage pregnancies, managing peer pressure/relationship, gender discrimination, abuse and sexual harassment, pressure of good performance in academics and social responsibility etc leading to anxiety, depression, attention deficit-hyperactivity etc which, ultimately, affects their thought processes, feelings, and daily activities like eating, sleeping, and studying.

The ST&SC Development, Minorities and Backward Classes Welfare Department under its “Telephonic Counselling Programme” also intends to entrust the trained matrons during the vacations to take stock of the wellness, health and mental status of the girls, identify and tackle issues sensitively, impart age-appropriate counselling and imbibe positive behaviour. This initiative would motivate the adolescent girls, in a meaningful way and will also check reduction of incidences and mishaps.

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