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ISKCON CPO 'Empowers' Devotee Communities' Fight Against Child Sex Abuse and Violence

By: on May 23, 2007
Photo Credits: ISKCON News Staff

L-R: Sri Radhika dasi (St. Louis, Missouri); Carolyn Brose, right, (New Vrindavana, West Virginia) with Sri Radhika; Mohini dasi, right, with Kamalavati dasi (New Vrindavana).


The ISKCON Child Protection Office held a three-day child abuse safety training program the first week in May in New Vrindavana. Seven devotees, including teachers, Sunday School teachers and social workers  attended the training.

 


The training program, called Good Touch Bad Touch©, (GTBT) is an age-appropriate, child abuse safety program used in more than 5,000 schools for more than 23 years throughout America. Tamohara das, Director of the ISKCON Child Protection Office (CPO), and his wife, Mantrini devi dasi, certified GTBT trainers, conducted the program.

 

The Good Touch Bad Touch© curriculum goodtouchbadtouch.com was developed in 1983 and is currently used in American public schools from pre-school to sixth grade. The GTBT concepts are introduced to children in the first grade and every year thereafter, in an age-appropriate manner, so children have a thorough body safety education by the time they reach junior high.

 


Through this curriculum, children learn skills to help protect themselves from sexual, physical, or emotional abuse; either from those people they know or from strangers. They learn how to deal with abusers, as well as school bullies. They learn strategies to handle abusive situations, how to tell and keep telling trusted adults, and that abuse is never their fault. Older children learn Internet safety.

 

The following devotees attended the training: Kamalavati devi dasi, Carolyn Brose, Parijata devi dasi, Mohini devi dasi, Hari Nam devi dasi, Govinda Priya devi dasi, and Sri Radhika devi dasi. The attendees made the following comments regarding how they will use this child abuse prevention body safety program in their schools and communities.

 


“I earned my masters in social work, so I do elementary classroom presentations for a living," said Mohini dasi of Detroit, Michigan. "This was a great program! I learned how to present information on sexual abuse, bullying, racism, and self-esteem. The wonderful part about this program is that the same information was presented in various ways to meet the developmental levels of children from kindergarten to 6th grade.”

 

Carolyn Brose of New Vrindavana, West Virginia judged the training she received ". . . excellent information and a specific curriculum to use to teach children from pre-K to middle school age on how to deal with sexual abuse.” She plans to use the learning system to offer a comprehensive training program to families at New Vrindaban.

 


Sri Radhika devi dasi of St. Louis, Missouri stated, “GTBT is an excellent program based on thorough child psychology and sexual abuse research, which really hits at the heart of child abuse issues. It is especially helpful to get the training within the devotee community, so that we can understand the program within the context of Krishna Consciousness and get the guidance on challenges and opportunities within our movement. In this day and age, child abuse is such a rampant problem that it is a disservice to leave children untrained. GTBT is a gift I’d like to give to every child I know.”

 

Govinda Priya devi dasi of New Vrindavana felt that the program training catered very effectively to all ages, keeping in mind their developmental stages . . . so that they know what to do if something happens to them. I strongly feel that we have a right to be safe, and it is our responsibility as an adult to provide a safe environment for our children.”

 

Kamalavati devi dasi, also of New Vrindavana, called the program “empowering."

 


"I now have a much deeper understanding of all types of abuse, particularly sexual abuse," she added. "I look forward to teaching this within my community to share this with families to create an atmosphere of openness and awareness for everyone to be safe.”

 

The ISKCON Child Protection Office received a grant from Children of Krishna, Inc. in 2006, to implement the Good Touch Bad Touch© program within ISKCON schools and Sunday Schools. So far, the Alachua Learning Center and the New Raman Reti School in Alachua, Florida, as well as the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula and Sandipani Muni School in Vrindavana, India, have adopted this body safety education program to train their teachers.

 


Devotees and administrators in both academic and Sunday schools in Australia, Bhaktivedanta Manor (UK), Hungary, Mayapur, and Chowpatti have expressed interest in introducing Good Touch Bad Touch© into their curricula. 

 


If you would like to find out more about how you can bring GTBT to your community, school, or Sunday School, please contact Tamohara das, Director of the ISKCON Child Protection Office at tamohara@yahoo.com or learn more about the program at ChildProtectionOffice.org.

 


 

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