Panaji: Schools counsellors have been told by the directorate of education (DoE) that they are duty bound to report any instance of child abuse they come across to the police. Schools heads have also been told that such complaints reported through the counsellor should be submitted to the police within 12 hours.
DoE has told schools that this is as per the Protection of Child from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, the special legislation implemented by the central government to protect children from sexual offences.
“Section 21 of POCSO Act mandates that every case of child abuse must be mandatorily reported to the police or child welfare committee or special court. Non reporting of any case of child sexual abuse to the above authorities attracts penal provisions for individuals as well as institutional heads,” the circular to schools stated.
Director of administration in DoE Varsha Naik said that in case any child reports an incident of sexual abuse, it should be immediately reported to the school’s counsellor to provide “psycho-social, emotional support” to the child.
“If the incident of sexual abuse is directly mentioned to the counsellor, the counsellor is duty bound to report in writing the said incident to the police station under intimation to the headmaster of the institution,” Naik told schools, asking them to raise awareness among teachers and other school staff about provisions of the POSCO Act.
Counsellors have been appointed in schools across the state under the Goa Education Development Corporation.
“Intimation to the police should be sent immediately by the school headmaster not beyond 12 hours after receiving the information,” the circular stated.