Dr. Suseela Mathew speaking to a group of young women. 

Dr. Suseela Mathew speaking to a group of young women. 

FOR India provided the following report from it's work to address a variety of challenges facing young people in Kerala:

Behavioral and attitudinal change is happening among our adolescents. Sexual abuse, substance and alcohol use, cyber crime and suicide attempts , all these issues are under reported and the gravity of the problems are underestimated. These problems are spreading like wild fire literally.

We are sharing this based on training programs and interaction with 600 school counselors over a period of past 3 months.. This training for 600 government appointed counselors at government schools. All the counselors  in 14 districts  all over Kerala in batches of 50 each are given intensive  training  for a period of 4 days in practical hands on skills and also given inputs on the application of enacted laws. The information received is based on the feed back by interactive process with qualified graduate and post graduate counselors in the course of these 4 days per batch training which ended last week. No survey form or questionnaire has been used to elicit information. The deliberations were based on issues which the counselor commonly handled and so can be treated as authentic and the latest from the field.

 Dr. Suseela Mathew pointing out a banner placed up on the side of a building to gently remind all reading it to be aware of "Basics"

Dr. Suseela Mathew pointing out a banner placed up on the side of a building to gently remind all reading it to be aware of "Basics"

Several students across the districts are entrapped in one or the other dangers like sexual abuse, substance and alcohol use, cyber crime or suicide attempts. When school counselors report this to school authorities many times they are strictly warned not to take it up as it would bring adverse publicity. Another reason is that the existing legislation treats most of these issues as crimes and there is a long tedious process of reporting and lodging FIR with police, standing as witness in courts etc which is best avoided. The family of the child caught in the abuse is also very non cooperative and secretive when counselors bring the issues to their notice. Many counselors have been warned with threatening language and requested not to spoil the future of the child by reporting such deviations to authorities. Besides this, the people who profit from the supply of drugs and cannabis, the perpetrator in the case of cyber crime or sexual abuse all play active roles in suppressing facts and in maintaining secrecy. In the case of suicide attempts the family itself conceals or covers up facts so that the attempter is saved from the process of law and from publicity.

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