Prevention of Child Abuse
Few weeks back I had the privilege of attending three days Sensitization Programme on Child Abuse organized by the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development Regional Centre at Guwahati for the Principals & Vice Principals of Govt. Schools of Arunachal Pradesh & Nagaland. Even though I was forced to cut short my summer vacation and attend the programme, I have no regrets for sacrificing my holidays because the programme was well designed and was effectively executed to derive maximum benefit within the limited time.
I have been in the teaching field for nearly 25 years and have developed a feeling that I am discharging my duties sincerely towards the cause of children. But the facts and figures we got exposed at the program made me feel guilty for being ignorant about an important issue concerning children over these many years.
I am afraid that many teachers, school administrators and officials dealing with children may be in the same state of mind as I am. As practically it will not be possible for the Govt. to depute all the Principals and Teachers in the state to such training programmes, I wish to share the knowledge gained from the Sensitization programme with the readers in the coming days. I hope it may help to increase awareness among the public and would ultimately help the helpless children. Kindly remember that I am not an expert in this subject matter and my main intention is to arouse curiosity among the readers for further exploration of knowledge.
Child abuse starts from home:
Child abuse in India is often a hidden phenomenon especially when it happens in the home or by family members. Numbers of cases of child abuse in the home are hard to ascertain because most of these crimes go unreported. Focus with regards to abuse has generally been in the more public domain such as child labour, prostitution, marriage, etc. Intra-family abuse or abuse that takes place in institutions such as schools or government homes has received minimal attention. Societal abuses that are a result of poverty such as malnutrition, lack of education, poor health, neglect, etc are recognised in various forms by the Indian legal system. But India does not have a law that protects children against abuse in the home.
In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) released a study report on child abuse. The report discusses incidence of child abuse nationwide. The study of the MWCD found a wide spread incidence of child abuse. Children between the ages of 5-12 are at the highest risk for abuse and exploitation. The study found that 69% of children reported to have been physically abused. Out of these 54.68% were boys. 52.91% of boys and 47.09 % of girls reported having been abused in their family environment. Of the children who were abused in family situations 88.6% were abused by their parents. Every two out of three school children reported facing corporal punishment. In juvenile justice institutions 70.21 % of children in conflict with law and 52.86% of children in need of care and protection reported having been physically abused. With regard to child labour 50.2% of children work all seven days of the week. 81.16% of the girl child labourers work in domestic households, while 84% of the boy child labourers worked in tea stalls or kiosks. 65.99 % of boys and 67.92% of girls living on the street reported being physically abused by their family members and other people.
The study also examined emotional abuse and girl child neglect. It examined two forms of emotional abuse: humiliation and comparison. Half the children reported facing emotional abuse with 83% of that abuse begin conducted by parents. Girl child neglect was assessed girls comparing themselves to their brothers on factors like attention, food, recreation time, household work, taking care of siblings, etc. 70.57% of girls reported having been neglected by family members. 48.4% of girls wished they were boys. 27.33% of girls reported getting less food then their brothers. Of the young adults (ages 18-24) interviewed, almost half of them reported having been physically or sexually abused as children.
(To be continued)
Principal, GHSS, Bhandari.