Opinion

Child Protection: A Challenge

One-fifth of the total number of children in the world lives in India i.e. India is the second largest country in terms of child population. Child abuse and child labour is continuously rising in the country and in terms of HIV positive children, India comes on the second position in the world. This represents the violation of child rights and rising sexual abuse in the country. Child rights are being violated daily in the country, but neither someone notices these sensitive issues nor there is a complaint filed in this context.

However, there are many policies and laws for the protection of child rights at the national and international level. The Indian constitution also ensures the protection of child rights and fundamental rights. Since 1992 India is also a part of the United Nation's Child Rights Document. In spite of all these efforts, there are legal errors and there is no solid blueprint to implement these welfare plans for children. Besides this, childhood of millions of children is at stake because of social evils and ignorance from our side as well.

India is the leading nation in passing laws for the safety and protection of children, but at the speed at which the law is being amended and new laws are been passed, if we work on implementing and making people aware about these laws, then we can eradicate this problem to a large extent. Child prostitution, child labour, child begging are the constructs deeply related to financial instability. Violence at home or school are closely linked to poverty, ethics and social values. Usually, there is a criminal inclination in cases of child trafficking. There must be a sense of commitment in safeguarding the child rights among the common people of the country. Every person belonging to society especially those concerned with child rights must know every detail about child rights and spread the awareness so we can complete our goal of making this country free from child exploitation.

Indian constitution has expressed its constitutional commitment to the children. The constitution is the basic law of the country under which the fundamental rights and instructions given for the state are included. According to Article 15 (3), the state should make special provisions for children, in Article 21 (A) the provision of free education for all children belonging to the age group of 06-14 years, Article 23 prohibits any kind of human trade, especially child trade and in Article 24, to those who are under 14 years of age and are doing diligent labor is restricted. According to the fundamental rights of the Constitution, it is the primary obligation of the government to go to court for justice in the case of child's needs and violation of their rights. Normally, the responsibility of the Child Protection and Child Rights is on the State Government.

Even after 70 years of country's independence and having access to many resources, there is a spike in cases of malnutrition, health, violence, education, protection from exploitation which is far more than the population growth. In the urban area, around 30 percent of the child crimes are being reported by the parents, family or children themselves, whereas in rural areas, this percentage is negligible and if there are reports filed then they are of eve-teasing, rape or child marriage. Perhaps even today, due to traditional lifestyle, rituals, we do not count other offenses in the category of crime. We must teach our children to be aware and teach them to recognize between good and bad. A report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (2017) shows that 53.22 percent of children in the country had to face one or more forms of sexual abuse, out of which 52.94 percent boys and 47.06 percent girls were victims of these sexual harassment incidents.

Child security is becoming a challenge with every passing day. Social media is encouraging cybercrime where a child is exploited mentally and physically. An example of harmful cybercrime is ‘blue whale challenge’ where many children committed suicide because of the challenge. Adults are involved in cybercrime and they blackmail the children through chatting or messaging and children are forced to comply and gets trapped in the nexus.

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It is ironic that in a country where children are considered as Gods, child labour is a serious issue and they’re being treated as slaves. When these children are supposed to study instead they are working in factories, hotels, shops and living the life of a slave. The terrifying picture of this scenario is that they are being sexually abused. In the age where they should dream a world full of joy, they’re working to fulfill someone else’s dream. Many laws were made by the government to eliminate child labor, but the weak rehabilitation strategy led to passing a law just for the employer. The problem of child labor is not just in India. It is a major problem in many countries of the world whose solution is very important. The Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act was passed in 1986 in India but, due to financial constraints in many places, parents sell small children at cheap rates to the contractors who, according to their convenience, use them for working in their hotels, factories etc.

There is a seasonal growth in child beggary, we must think that why there is a crowd of child beggars who beg by knocking the glass window of cars, pointing towards their stomach citing their poor circumstances?

In a developing country like India, poverty and economic inequality is still a major problem. Girls belonging to the age group of 12-13 years carry an infant child to gain the sympathy of the crowd. Many government and non-government organizations are making their efforts to curb child begging but these efforts are so small that no significant change can be observed by this. Administration and law seem to be helpless in front of the mafias because if so many children are freed under the rehabilitation process, hundreds of new children get trapped in this nexus. The government has initiated many programs to solve this problem but it's our responsibility too to find a solution to this problem.

Political and social willpower is required to eradicate child abuse, other problems related to this issue is lack of education. We must take positive steps on every step to safeguard the child rights and the principle of Urie Bronfenbrenner can be useful. In his ‘Ecological System Theory’, he labeled different aspects or levels of the environment that influence children's development i.e., Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosystem, Macrosystem. It indicates that when the environmental protection mechanism fails, the children become unsafe and have a detrimental effect on their safety. 

We must come forward to support these children to make themselves capable to cross all the hurdles of their life so they can live a cheerful life. We must not give money to these children beggars as it’d act as a poison for the system. We can pressurise the government to take stern actions against them but to achieve that goal, society must understand it’s role and follow a blueprint to achieve that goal.