Dubai: In the spotlight following an alleged sexual assault on one of its students, Dubai Modern High School is now educating its kindergarten (KG) pupils to protect their bodies, including private parts, by keeping them covered, clean and safe.
A school circular received by a parent of a KG2 student on January 20 said a session on "personal safety" was organised for kindergarten children in respective classes, as a first step in a series of talks and activities focusing on child safety.
"The reason for having some parts covered is because they are important parts, very delicate and can hurt if not kept covered. Example: why is the heart hidden … that is why the genitals/private parts/...are also kept covered. We always wear underwear/panties to keep them covered...Names of genitals were mentioned with the aim of reducing awkwardness about these parts. Myths about these parts being ‘shame-shame' or ‘unclean' were also clarified," the circular said.
The circular said children have been told that these parts could be touched "only while bathing and when you finish in the toilet — by your parents, teachers or other care givers (maids, aunt)". They were told that they should "never undress completely" in front of anyone other than these people and that they should not show or touch their private parts even while playing.
The circular said: "Safe and unsafe touching was discussed. Puppets, role-play and talk were the methods used. Safe touches are pat on the back/head, high fives, hand-shaking etc. Unsafe touches are pat on bottom/chest, kissing on lips, tickling."
Where the child is touched and "how the touch makes you feel" were also discussed as the criteria for deciding whether the touch was safe or not. "If any unsafe touching happened, children were taught to say ‘Stop it — I don't like it' in a loud tone and walk away from the situation and immediately inform teachers/parents or any other responsible adult around," the school note to parents said.
Dr R. McCarthy, Psychologist of the Counselling and Development Clinic, said: "In general, kindergarten children are too young for sex education which, if imparted, could damage their innocence. We've to be careful about the way we teach them about what is safe and what is not."
Early last month, parents of a four-year-old girl of the school alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by her bus driver and two conductors.