Issues regarding online sexual abuse should be incorporated in National Curriculum and Textbook Board programme to generate awareness among children and ensure their safety, educationists and rights activists said yesterday.
They were speaking at a views-exchange meeting arranged by rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) at the capital’s Cirdap.
ASK has been implementing a project on “online sexual exploitation” funded by Terre des Hommes (TDH) Netherlands at 28 schools under four districts, where they raise awareness among students, said ASK’s Child Rights Unit Coordinator Ambika Roy.
Online sexual exploitation of a child could happen in various ways like via e-mail or using social networking platforms, she said, while presenting a keynote paper.
After building communication, a child could be exploited through sending indecent texts or videos, through building emotional bond and later forcing in sexual activities, or sending gift or money and later provoking to demonstrate sexual attitude, she said.
Children encountering such exploitation at any point could suffer psychological issues and live in constant fear of being exposed, said Prof Mahzabeen Haque of the Department of Psychology at Dhaka University.
Children’s mental development and growth can be hampered as a result, she said.
These children might grow up with lack of self-esteem and confidence and they often cannot communicate with their families properly, she added.
Prof Mahzabeen said incidents of sexual exploitation should be minimised, even if it is not possible to completely uproot this evil from society, and for this different initiatives are required.
Alongside incorporating the issue in curriculum, focus should be on children’s learning process so they can apply what they have learnt, she said.
ASK Executive Director Sheepa Hafiza said they will approach the NCTB and the education ministry authorities with recommendations generated from the meeting.
It is everyone’s duty to ensure safety for children, said Dr Manzoor Ahmed, professor emeritus of Brac University.
Incorporating issues of online sexual exploitation would not be sufficient alone, he said, adding that piloting, research and experimental activities would also be required for implementation.
Praising the proposal, Lutfun Nahar, deputy secretary of education ministry, said the ministry would take measure to this end.
However, further brainstorming and experts’ opinions were required before finalising any content, she said.
TDH Netherlands’ Country Director for Bangladesh Mahmudul Kabir, among others, spoke at the meeting.