How do you show kindness to animals?

Everyone wants to be treated with care and kindness. The same goes for animals. How can you be kind to animals? The first and foremost is-Do no harm them. But do not stop there. Here is a list of things you can do to help animals.

Do not support animal cruelty: Among the biggest threats to animals around the world are hunting and poaching for trading of animal parts. Leather bags and belts, certain perfumes, cosmetics, paint brushes and some artefacts contain animal skin, fat, tusk horn, hair, or gland. If there are no markets for these items, there will be no animal products. You can help by not purchasing such products.

Do not support animal entertainment: Caging animals and making them dance, paint, and do tricks to entertain humans often involve cruelty. Animals are removed from their natural habitat and their freedom of movement is curtailed. Don't you think supporting such entertainment also makes us guilty of cruelty?

Small acts of kindness: You can show your love for animals by feeding them. You can feed stray dogs, keep water for squirrels, and install feeders for birds. But ensure you continue this food and water supply.

Educate yourself: Learn about animals. Be aware of their needs. The more you know the better. Because you will be well-equipped to become an agent of change.

Be kind to Nature: When you protect Nature, it in turn protects all creatures on Earth. Making simple lifestyle changes will go a long way in building a better planet for all life. Conserve water and electricity, cycle more, consume less, plant a tree, and give up single-use plastic.

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How do you say no when you feel uncomfortable?

We live with and meet different types of people every day. They could be in our age group or much older. They could be family, friends relatives, neighbours, etc. Some of these people can make us feel happy and comfortable, while some may not. The discomfort could be because they are mean to us or tease us. In some cases, some people may be nice to us but increasingly find excuses to be with us alone. When alone, they may touch us in inappropriate places, including our private parts, which can be painful. They may also ask us to touch their private parts and/or make us watch inappropriate photographs or videos. All of these can make us feel uncomfortable, helpless, scared, and angry. Sometimes such an incident may happen once and be caused by a stranger. Sometimes, it can be caused repeatedly by someone we know well- a cousin, a neighbour a friend. We may like them because they are kind, bring us gifts, and tell us funny jokes. Our parents may trust some of them enough to leave us alone with them. Not everyone behaves this way, but there are people who may do this to us, and this is simply wrong. They may use their kindness to make us do whatever they want. And they may even threaten us with serious consequences into keeping their behaviour a secret. But this need not be a secret and need not happen at all.

REMEMBER

  • Your body is yours alone. You have the right to say no when anyone makes you feel uncomfortable. For instance, if a person hugs or kisses you whenever you meet, but it makes you uncomfortable, tell the person no. Inform your parents too.
  • Even when elders are around, if a person finds ways to touch you secretly and inappropriately, say no. move from the place and find a safer place. Don't forget that whatever happened was NEVER your fault. And don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise. And what happened does not change how much all the people who matter to you love you.
  • A touch is unsafe if you feel nervous, scared, uncomfortable, or it hurts you. If at any point anybody makes you feel uncomfortable, remember you have the right to tell the other person that.
  • Always talk to a trusted elder; it could be your parents or teachers, and explain to them what happened.

IT'S NEVER OKAY FOR ANYONE TO

  • Touch your private parts
  • Touch their private parts in front of you
  • Ask you to touch their private parts
  • Ask you to take your clothes off or take videos or photos of you
  • Show you videos or photos of people without any clothes

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Are LGBT rights human rights?

What about a world where all of us looked, talked, and behaved exactly like each other? Unimaginably boring! What makes our world wonderful is the sheer variety in cultures, languages, cuisine, art, rituals, customs, traditions, and even gender. Gender, you ask? What variety? There are just two genders, right? No. There are more. Gender goes beyond the biological sex assigned to a person at birth, and so it is not just the binary of male and female. It is what one identifies with (or not), and it has a lot to do with emotions too.

You may have come across the term LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender; new letters are getting added increasingly for further inclusivity). Further, there are people who want to be defined by none of these genders or by more than one.

Among the people mentioned here, you may have come across transpeople or read about how they are achievers in several fields. If you are wondering why you do not get to see many LGBT people, it is because they are often ignored, teased, or abused for who they are that they choose to not reveal their identity to everyone. Such discrimination arises in society in the name of religion, culture, tradition, etc., or because their own country refuses to acknowledge them. This is unfair to the community, because as young people it may be difficult for them to come out and be themselves, and later as adults, it denies them a chance at fulfilment and happiness.

Comfortingly, things are changing. While discrimination and violence against the community continues, it is also finding acceptance and support across the world. Pride Parade and Pride Month are celebrated the world over, where people from the community and allies take part to celebrate the community.

If you feel you belong to the LGBT community, it is important to understand that you are as valuable as everyone else and that you deserve a life of equality and dignity. Find support groups, stand up for yourself, and be proud of who you are. If you do not belong to the LGBT community, you can be an ally, a person who supports the LGBT community. Be a friend, talk to them, support them, and find out how all you can help them. Even something as basic as finding out which pronouns they use - he, she, they - and following it is a right step towards inclusivity. Remember that while discrimination divides us, inclusivity gives all of us the chance to live together peacefully.

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Why adolescence is a period of transition between childhood and adulthood?

Adolescence is the period when children gradually enter adulthood. It is usually marked by dramatic physical, emotional, and psychological changes. The process of rapid physical changes in adolescence is called puberty, and it begins at different ages in different people. Adolescence is when a lot happens - the development of a sudden attraction to other people, the sprouting of armpit and pubic hair, increased sweating, weight gain, stretch marks, a changing voice, acne, the onset of menstruation, etc., leading one to be conscious of one's body and behaviour. Around this time, academic pressures too start increasing gradually. It is also the period when friends and peers become so important that ganging up against younger or vulnerable children is seen as "cool" while the pull of social media, gadgets, smoking, alcohol, drugs, and pornography grows intense. When elders, especially parents, who have your best interests in mind, try to discipline you or give you advice, you start finding them annoying. The bodily changes, the unnamed attractions, the urge to experiment with "unmentionables", and the resultant conflict could cause anxiety, struggle, confusion, and anger. Sounds scary enough to not want to grow up, right? Not really! It is important to realise that bodily changes are part of a natural cycle to prepare you for adulthood. Embracing a healthy lifestyle, picking up a hobby, and widening your interests help you keep yourself both physically and emotionally calm. And never forget that your looks do not define you. What is important is to be comfortable in your body and know that you have the liberty to be yourself. With such a positive attitude you can even help those around you appreciate themselves and be secure in their own bodies.

Adolescence is also the phase that gives you a peek into adulthood and helps you acquaint yourself well with what lies ahead. Studies have shown that the temperament you show as an adolescent could impact your personality as an adult. This is also the time when you have the chance to prepare yourself to be a responsible adult. And that would mean dividing time carefully between academics and interests that will keep you happy and peaceful even as you learn to keep off anything that can cause physical and emotional harm to yourself and the people you love.

If you think any of your habits border on addiction, and are beginning to affect your studies, health, and relationships, or if you're feeling dejected and having negative thoughts about life, talk to trusted elders and seek the help of counsellors.

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What is bullying?

At school and at home, most of you may have friends you spend time with. However, you or someone you know may have experienced bullying. Bullying is "when someone does hurtful things on purpose to another person", repeatedly. This could be written or verbal such as name-calling, teasing, put-downs, etc., or spreading rumours, refusing to share things, excluding someone from group activity, etc. All these can happen in person or virtually. Bullying also includes physically harming someone by hitting, pushing them, and/or destroying their things such as toys, notebooks, gifts, etc.

When someone bullies you, you may feel helpless, lonely, and sad. Do not show you are scared because that encourages the bully. Try to be calm, and leave the place as soon as possible. It is important to immediately report the incident to trusted elders such as your teachers, parents, or an older sibling. Explain to them exactly what happened and how you feel about it. Remember that you are never responsible for someone bullying you. Bullies harm others for various reasons - because they are unhappy with themselves, they just need attention, they (wrongly) feel superior about themselves (they are usually older children), or even because they think what they are doing is fun and are not aware of the hurt their action is causing. But you can put an end to bullying. When you see someone being bullied, gather all your friends and confront the bully. Never laugh at someone being bullied. Invariably, a bully alone is a bully scared. Once the bully leaves, take into your group the person who was bullied as a show of comfort and support. Again, do not forget to report it to elders. If you are sure you can handle it along with a couple of trusted friends, you may try talking to the bully gently about the unacceptable behaviour and see if you have any common interests. Who knows, the bully perhaps was looking for a friend! Staying together, avoiding places where you can find yourself alone with the bully, confronting the bully as a group, refusing to encourage a bully, not spreading rumours, never laughing at or excluding someone being bullied, being kind to those bullied, and reporting the incidents to trusted elders are ways to eliminate bullying. You can do this even if the bully is not alone but works as a gang.

If you have been doing hurtful things to others, it is likely that you are a bully yourself. Open up about your behaviour to an elder, and with their help and / or through the help of counsellors, you will get a chance to understand yourself better, become a nicer person, and find true friends and happiness in life.

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