Safe Childhood Strong Nation
Search 4th December, 2018 Public Speak here: http://www.newsonair.com/Audio-Archive-Search.aspx
TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
Violence against children is violence against humanity and society. Dignity of a child is very important and when it is lost in childhood, everything is shattered. Our silence is shocking.
While we have successfully brought in children-specific legislations such as the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO) and the amended Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, our performance in creating robust and reliable preventive response systems has been markedly poor.
The spate of brutal crimes against children demonstrates that our collective approach to child safety in schools remains ad hoc, laissez-faire and poorly monitored, highlighting the lack of both soft and hard preventive infrastructure.
- Every six minutes, a child goes missing.
- More than 4.5 lakh children have been victims of trafficking, bought, sold for commercial and sexual exploitation.
- Over 50% children in India were subjected to one or another form of physical abuse.
- More boys are abused physically than girls.
- In 94.8 percent of cases, children were raped by someone known to them, according to data collected by the National Crime Records Bureau.
- The number of child abuse cases registered under Prevention of Sexual Offences against Children (POCSO) Act rose from 8,904 in the year 2014 to 14,913 in 2015.
- Uttar Pradesh led the highest number of child abuse cases with 3,078 followed by Madhya Pradesh with 1,687 cases, Tamil Nadu with 1,544 cases, Karnataka with 1,480 cases and Gujarat by 1,416 cases
Provision related to Children in “Constitution of India”
- Article 14 and 15
- Article 21A. The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.
- Article 24. No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
- Article 39. The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing— that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
- Article 45. The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.
- Article 51A. It shall be the duty of every citizens of India- who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years]
National Policy for Children 2013
To “build a preventive and responsive child protection system and promote effective enforcement of punitive legislative and administrative measures against all forms of child abuse and neglect”.
- The Policy recognises every person below the age of eighteen years as a child and covers all children within the territory and jurisdiction of the country.
- It recognizes that a multi-sectoral and multidimensional approach is necessary to secure the rights of children.
The Policy has identified four key priority areas:
- Health and nutrition
- Education and development
- Protection and participation
Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO)
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) was enacted in 2012 to address the growing sexual violence against children and the inability of the Indian Penal Code to deal with this concern. The Act provides –
- A graded classification of sexual offences against children
- Prescribes higher mandatory minimum sentences for such crimes
- Mandates several processes and safeguards to ensure a child-friendly trial such as the designation of “special courts”
- Child-friendly process of recording victim testimony
- Provision of compensation
- Protection of the identity of the child, etc.
- The Act also contains extensive mandates for procedures to be followed by the police, magistrates and medical personnel handling victims of child sexual abuse.
Although more than five years have elapsed since it came into force, the system is replete with failures and shortcomings.
Protection in Schools
- The ministry has comprehensive guidelines that take into consideration physical infrastructure such as separate and age-appropriate toilets to safeguard children in school. These also take into account issues related to a school’s staff such as background checks and mental make-up. However, these guidelines need to be made mandatory and compliance must be made non-negotiable.
- The policy should emphasise ‘gatekeeping’ to ensure that the recruitment of both teaching and non-teaching staff is done after thorough police verification and psycho-social assessment. Many private and government-aided schools already follow this process, but it must now become compulsory for all.
- It should also be mandatory for schools to enrol trained counsellors who can both prevent and detect abuse of children — this could be an existing teacher who has undergone the requisite training or a separate counsellor.
- In addition, all teachers need to be sensitised about child abuse, taught to recognise it and made aware of laws such as the POCSO Act which makes reporting such acts compulsory.
- Sessions with children on safety and prevention of abuse ought to become part of the curriculum. They need to have a designated point of contact and rest assured that there is a safe space where they can speak and be heard.
An open dialogue involving all three stakeholders (schools, parents and the Government) can go a long way towards creating the right ecosystem for building preventive response mechanisms. Parents need to realise that even though they have entrusted their children to the school, the safety of their child is a collective responsibility.
Sexual offence: Why do the perpetrators choose children as targets?
- Many child abuse cases go unreported because the victim is traumatised and therefore reluctant to confide in anyone.
- In a majority of the cases, the family of the victim may not want to confront the abuser if he or she is an influential family member or an influential person in society, for the fear of backlash or shame.
To ensure a safe childhood – Way Forward
Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi
- Policy initiatives
- Institutional mechanism in place
- Capacity building to eradicate the social evil
- Accountability of the authorities in particular and citizens in general
- Technological interventions
- Societal engagement
Safety should begin at home: There is a need to reform education – to guide them during their exploration years, to make them understand about the right ethical behaviour and to make them understand between good touch and bad touch. As in most of the cases, rape is committed by people known to child such as relatives, and neighbours, there is an urgent need for the family to be sensitised, and the deep-rooted attitudes that view them as inferior to men need to be also tacked with.
Law is not vengeance – it is meant to punish, to deter, and to reform
- In order to provide an effective response, it is imperative to analyse the present system and understand why it has failed. The low rates of conviction do not even have the effect of creating a fear of accountability in the first place. Our investigation needs to be quick and scientific.
- Instead of pursuing drastic remedies, we need to urgently devise ways to bolster the existing criminal justice and child protection systems and ensure higher convictions, higher reporting of offences, put in place preventive strategies, and address a large number of systemic and operational gaps.
- Victims should be provided with proper counselling at different stages, for life.
- Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has advocated setting up a national children’s tribunal, on the lines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), to deal with cases of crime against children in a time-bound and expeditious manner.
Connecting the Dots:
- Investment in children is an investment in the future. Discuss
- There is an urgent need of an argument for a culture of moral responsibility and accountability among our institutions, as opposed to the prevalent culture of superficial, convenient responses. Critically examine.
- Numerous legislations regarding ‘Rights of children’ in India have failed to tap the real essence of ‘Right to have a Childhood’. In the light of the statement critically discuss how effective the Indian legislations have been in securing the ‘Rights of children’?