Arpan Has Trained 3 Million Kids, Adults On Preventing Sexual Abuse

FPJ Web Desk Updated: Monday, August 28, 2023, 05:38 PM IST
Pooja Taparia, founder of Arpan |

Pooja Taparia, founder of Arpan |

Achama Mathew, chief education officer of Bombay Cambridge Gurukul schools |

Pooja Taparia is working with governments and schools across the country to make children’s safety training a regular part of school activity

Pooja Taparia, 46, had always nurtured a desire to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to society. “I had registered Arpan in 2005, but it was a play I watched on the issue of child sexual abuse in 2006 that confirmed what I wanted to do,” she recounted. Arpan, her NGO, is now one of the largest organisations working against child sexual abuse. 

The play was a revelation on how far-reaching and complex the problem was. “We did our research and over the years have made a standard operating procedure to reach out to children and parents,” Taparia said.  

Arpan works on a two-pronged approach—prevention and rehabilitation. The organisation holds sessions with students, teachers and parents to raise awareness on child sexual abuse, on how children cane equipped to identify sexual advances and abuse. “We counsel adults to ensure they provide a safe space for the children when they approach them with complaints on the same,” she said. 

To provide rehabilitation, Arpan works with children identified to be at risk or suffering from abuse. Such children are counselled by specially certified practitioners. Arpan’s team also engages with parents to ensure that the child is no longer at risk, through follow-ups and continuous monitoring, until they are satisfied that the child is safe. 

Since its inception, Arpan has impacted 3 million children and adults, reaching out to 800,000 children and adults directly and 2.2 million children and adults through their partners who teach children personal safety skills. Additionally, Arpan has provided counselling to 14,000 children and adults who were deemed to be at risk. 

Arpan's primary focus is on underprivileged children, Taparia said. “Currently we are working on upscaling our model to work across the country with teacher training modules and access to our researched course work,” she said. 

Over the years, Taparia has seen the attitude of parents change. Where there was some resistance earlier, in recent years parents are more welcoming about discussing their child's safety. “In fact, they are more aware and prompt about taking actions now and they co-operate with teachers and therapists to ensure the well being of their child,” she said. 

Arpan’s aim is to ensure that teachers and other stakeholders across the country are trained to be able to identify at-risk children and know what to do for them. “We are currently working on implementing our model throughout the country,” Taparia said. 

Chief Education Officer at Bombay Cambridge Gurukul (BCG) Schools, Achama Mathew, said it was in their schools that Arpan’s pilot programme was hosted in 2009, a training module on how children can keep themselves safe. “There has been no turning back since, and we have plugged the subject of personal safety into our school curriculum while watching Arpan grow phenomenally,” Mathew said. “The impact they have is marvellous, because they have consciously and systematically reached out to governments, engaged with authorities on how to include this subject in textual material, etc. These are not easy conversations to have, and their vision, and Pooja’s driving force and passion, are the reason why they have achieved the kind of impact they have.”

Published on: Monday, August 28, 2023, 05:38 PM IST