Penning it down for a worthy cause
In an attempt to help sensitise parents and children about the various threats prevalent in society and also create a communication tool to discuss sensitive topics, Margao based psychologist Rochelle Pereira has written a book, titled ‘Little Brave Nina and other short stories’
When the matter of a child being sexually abused gets out, focus is usually directed at the child’s physical health and nabbing of the perpetrator, making them face the consequences. And while that is important, equal attention needs to be paid to the long-term well-being of the victim and how, even years after the incident, it can still affect them. It’s not an easy path and the handling of these issues differs from case to case, but given the sensitive nature of the topic, many of these victims suffer in silence.Rochelle Pereira, a young psychologist from Margao, has observed such scenarios and was deeply affected by the recent rise in cases of child sexual abuse (CSA). According to her research, in Goa, there were 324 CSA cases reported in the last year. She predicts that the number of cases that were not reported could be higher. While batting for better infrastructure to be created to help the victim, she feels that the mindsets need to change and a child victim should be encouraged to talk about the incident, consult a psychologist/ psychiatrist as soon as possible and most of all, no blame should be attributed to the child. Looking at the larger picture, Rochelle feels that the overall system can be improved and that there is a great need for better awareness at a young age. It is this ideology that drove her to come out with the book ‘Little Brave Nina and other short stories’ – a collection of short stories for children in the age group of 5-12 years. “ Writing is a passion for me and so this felt like a perfect fit. This book is just a tiny contribution towards such awareness,” says Rochelle. In addition to CSA, her book also focuses on nurturing the right values and attitudes in children while growing up. The book also makes for easy light reading for the child with the inclusion of a colouring section to make it more interesting and engaging for them. “It is written with the aim of providing the parents a platform to discuss sensitive issues with their kids. It also equips the child with the tools to deal with certain situations and empowers them to do the right thing. I felt bringing out a book was the best way to address this topic in a child-friendly manner,” says Rochelle. On a related note, a key area of her target audience are the parents. She emphasises on how family environment, parenting strategies are of utmost importance today as kids are exposed to far more threats, violence, peer pressure and explicit information. “I have encountered many parents who’ve needed assistance in addressing such topics and providing information in an appropriate manner. Hence I intend this book to be a means for parents to broach such a sensitive issue and use it as a platform to provide more information to their kids,” adds Rochelle. The clinical psychologist is also an assistant professor in the post graduate department of Chowgule College, Margao, where she lectures on child psychology and child development. Speaking about what more needs to be done, Rochelle stresses that there is a need to improve the infrastructure. She points out to the recent initiative where the government had tried to make counsellors available in schools. She feels that the ratio of counsellor per school is still poor. “Workshops can be conducted for parents and teachers, relevant movies screened, a properly trained full time counsellor is mandatory for every school; periodic talks can also be given to the students. Most importantly, listening skills and unconditional acceptance must be developed, “adds Rochelle, who specialises in children- and adolescent-related issues. She is releasing her book, which is available in English and Konkani, on November 23, 2017 at Ravindra Bhavan Margao at the hands of Fr Jerome D’Silva, the principal of St Xavier’s Mapusa, her alma mater.
So far, she has received great feedback from those who have got their hands on her book and she plans on visiting various educational institutes to promote her first book.
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