Child Protection: Meaning and Issues

"Child Protection: Meaning and Issues" is the title of this post. It seeks to provide the student a fundamental knowledge of the following: Who exactly is a child? What does the term "child protection" mean? 

  • Why is child protection necessary? issues relating to the safety of children. 
  • International and national initiatives to protect children. 
  • The state's obligation to protect children. 
  • Child protection policies and initiatives. What can we do?

Content

  1. Basic Concepts
  2. What is Child Protection?
  3. Schemes/Projects aimed at Child Protection 

Basic Concepts

Who is a child?

The objective of this section is to give a fundamental grasp of the scientific notion of childhood. Whether or not we are aware of how children are defined, we are nevertheless able to recognize children based on cultural stereotypes. The world's greatest child population resides in India. It makes up more than one-third of the nation's population. There are about 440 million people under the age of 18. By 2020, India will have the world's youngest population. Therefore, it is the responsibility of society to make sure that the next generation may grow and develop in a socially, emotionally, and psychologically healthy environment.

A person requires care, education, playtime, and time to explore chances for both emotional and physical growth during their formative years. Since the idea of a child varies from culture to culture, it is essential to understand what a child is in general and in India in particular.

Definition

Understanding the technical definition of a "child" is crucial to understanding the topic of child protection, particularly when determining whether the victim qualifies as a kid or whether certain concessions must be made to minors. We'll make an effort to comprehend the idea of children using the aid of the different Indian laws currently in effect.

Childhood is a stage between infancy and adulthood from a biological perspective. "Any human being below the age of eighteen years," according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989, "unless under the law relevant to the child, majority is acquired earlier." 1 India complies with this definition by becoming a UNCRC signatory.

Importance of Understanding the Concept of Child:

We encounter several instances of human rights violations in daily life, particularly when it comes to women's and children's rights. Similar to this, we learn about specific crimes against children. Any behavior that jeopardizes a child's wellbeing should be stopped in the interest of child safety. Children are seen as being the most vulnerable due to their lack of self-defense skills. Unlike adults, they are immature and incapable of handling some situations. Any kind of abuse, mistreatment, or exploitation of this vulnerable group must be taken extremely seriously. For instance, forcing a youngster to labor hinders both his or her physical development and intellectual and psychological growth. Additionally, it keeps the kid from reaching their greatest potential. Therefore, the age of the child becomes significant when thinking about stopping child labor. Similar to this, the legal age of consent for sex becomes significant when discussing child sex abuse.

What is Child Protection?

Children in our nation face several challenges every day. It is our responsibility to make the world a safe place for everyone, but especially for kids. In public places, schools, and even homes, many children do not have access to a safe and secure environment. They additionally experience abuse, prejudice, and exploitation. To guarantee our future generation a life of safety, dignity, and security, child protection must become our top concern. Every youngster should be protected from harm. Social security and safety policies should safeguard all people, regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances. Child protection is described as "means and mechanisms to prevent and respond to abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence impacting children" by "Save the Children".

Protection entails ensuring that children are as secure as possible from intentional and accidental injury by putting in place timely safeguards that are a regular part of their daily lives at home, in the neighborhood, and through the foundational service institutions. The idea of protection is based on the idea that every kid has the right to grow up and develop in a safe environment where violence, exploitation, and abuse are avoided, reduced, and addressed.

Issues related to Child Protection

Every child has the right to protection, but some kids need it more than others. Why? Let's attempt to comprehend this idea. All children under the age of six are more at risk than other kids their age; they are unable to defend themselves, not because they are incapable, but rather because they lack experience and are unable to comprehend the ramifications of dangerous and abusive situations. Because of their extreme innocence, they are oblivious to the abuser's motives. Many adults prey on these kinds of defenseless kids. Children are frequently abducted for a variety of purposes, including beggarly, organ theft, pedophilia, human sacrifice, child trafficking, and a number of other motives. They are the ones who require the most attention and defense against harm and hazards.

The next group of youngsters who are most at risk is those who are in difficult circumstances. Challenges may be of the mental, emotional, psychological, or social variety. Children with disabilities, kids living on the streets with or without their parents, kids from slums, kids who are marginalized, kids from underprivileged neighborhoods, kids who are refugees or migrants, and more come into this category. India does not have accessible public spaces. Children who are marginalized face discrimination and are denied equal opportunity. They lack access to accessible educational institutions, including schools and special education centers. Especially in the Indian context, girls are more vulnerable than boys, regardless of age. Culturally speaking, discrimination against girls both inside and outside of the home exists. The likelihood of malnutrition and sexual assault among girls is higher. Many of them are coerced into prostitution by traffickers. According to newspaper articles on the rising incidence of incest, they are not safe even in their own families. Parents have been known to sell their female offspring to be used in sex trafficking and child marriage.

Other vulnerable children who need protection are the following:

Children at risk families (children of prisoners, children of HIV+ parents, children of ment, child beggars, child prostitutes, child laborers, trafficked children, child victims of child marriage, children in conflict with the law, children impacted by conflicts and disasters (for example, earthquake and tsunami victims were trafficked for commercial sex work by making false promises of rehabilitation), children affected by substance abuse, and children who are victims of child marriage) (This list is merely illustrative and not all-inclusive.)

Children often face issues mentioned below:

  • Abuse: Abuse is defined as "harm to a person's civil or human rights caused by the conduct or acts of another person or persons." Physical, psychological, emotional, and mental abuse are all included. Abuse is the simple word for being cruelly or violently treated. The following categories apply to abuse.
    • hysical Abuse: Hitting, kicking, slapping, throwing, pinching, biting, or any kind of physical harm can be termed as a physical abuse. 
    • Psychological and emotional abuse: using words or actions through which child would feel insulted e.g. calling him/her derogatory names, negative comparison, not giving attention etc.
  • Neglect: Providing inadequate care and protection, or failing to give a child with food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and dental care, results in neglect and puts the child in a dangerous situation. Many kids are put in danger zones because of intentional negligence.
  • Sexual exploitation: Sexual exploitation is the practice of utilizing a youngster for one's own sexual gratification or to fulfill one's own sexual demands. which includes pedophile victims, child sex workers, child pornography, etc.
  • Economic exploitation: Using child labor for the advantage of the company or organization without or with minimal monitory refunds is referred to as economic exploitation in the context of child protection. includes domestic child labor, the use of minors in the transportation of narcotics or alcohol, the smuggling of contraband, and child labor, among other things.
  • Violence: “The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a child, by an individual or group, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in actual or potential harm to the child‟s health, survival, development or dignity."5

International Efforts and Commitment from India

At the international level, child protection is regarded as a topic that requires special attention. India has also demonstrated its dedication to upholding children's rights. India took a significant step toward assuring child protection in 1992 when it ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), pledging to do everything in its power to assure the survival, protection, participation, and development of its children. India ratified the World Declaration for the Survival, Protection, and Development of Children at the World Summit for Children in 1990. Additionally, India ratified the Optional Protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography as well as the use of children in armed conflict. By adopting the MDGs and the goals of a world suitable for children, India also reaffirmed its dedication to children. The SAARC Conventions on Child Welfare and Combating the Trafficking of Women and Children in the SAARC Region both have India as a signatory.

Initiatives of the National Council for Educational Research & Training (NCERT):

The protection of children is directly impacted by a few UNCRC articles. The NCERT text book for Class VIII quotes the following articles in addition to other UNCRC articles in an effort to educate students about their rights:
  • I have the Right to be loved and protected from harm and abuse, and everyone has the responsibility to love and care for others. [Art.19]. 
  • I have the Right to a family and a safe and comfortable home and everyone has the Responsibility to make sure all children have a family and home. [Art. 9, 27].
  • I have the Right to be proud of my heritage and beliefs, and everyone has the Responsibility to respect the culture and belief of others. [Art 29, 30]. 
  •  I have the Right to live without violence and corporal punishment (verbal, physical, emotional), and everyone has the Responsibility not to be violent to others. [Art. 2, 28, 37, 39]. 
  • I have the Right to be protected from economic exploitation and sexual exploitation, and everyone has the Responsibility to ensure that no child is forced to work and is given a free and secure environment. [Art. 32, 34]
  • I have the Right to protection from any kind of exploitation and everyone has the Responsibility to ensure that I am not being subjected to be taken advantage of, in any manner. [Art 36].

Efforts for child protection at the national level:

Indian Constitution: The Indian Constitution recognizes children's vulnerability and their need for protection. Article 15 recommends giving children special consideration through required and unique laws and policies that protect their rights. The protection, safety, security, and well-being of all its citizens, including children, are further reaffirmed by the rights to equality, to life, liberty, and freedom from exploitation contained in Articles 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, and 24. According to Article 39(e) and (f), the State shall, in particular, direct its policy toward ensuring that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children, are not abused, and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter occupations unsuited to their age or strength, and that the children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, and that their rights under the exploitation are respected. According to Article 45, the State shall make every effort to provide all children with early childhood care and education up until the age of six.

Directive policies of state direct the state to ensure:
  1. That the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and the citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength; 
  2. That child is given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment; iii. That the State shall endeavor to provide early childhood care and protection to all children until they complete the age of six years.7

Schemes/Projects aimed at Child Protection

Numerous initiatives and programs are being carried out for the benefit of children by various Ministries and Departments of the Government of India. The following are a few of the schemes and programs that the ministry of women and child development is implementing:

Ongoing Child Protection Schemes / Programmes and the Nodal Ministries Responsible for them

Major Schemes/ Programmes - Implementing Ministry

  • Improvement in Working Conditions of Child/Women -  Labour Ministry of Labour 
  • Initiative to Develop Skills, ITIs and Elimination of Child Labour in 10th Plan - Ministry of Labour 
  • A Programme for Juvenile Justice - Ministry of Women and Child Development
  • ntegrated Programme for Street Children, including CHILDLINE Service Ministry of Women and Child Development 
  • Shishu Gruha Scheme for promoting in-country and inter-country adoption through CARA - Ministry of Women and Child Development 
  • Scheme for welfare of working children and children in need for care and protection - Ministry of Women and Child Development 
  • Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for Children of Working Mothers - Ministry of Women and Child Development 
  • Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) - Ministry of Women and Child Development 
  •  Three Pilot Projects on Trafficking in source areas, destination point and an area where traditional practices prevail - Ministry of Women and Child Development 
  • Kishori Shakti Yojana - Ministry of Women and Child Development 
  • Swadhaar, Short Stay Home and Working Women‟s Hostel - Ministry of Women and Child Development 
  • Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) - Ministry of Women and Child Development

Legislations

There are several legislations pertaining to children and child protection. These include the following:
  • The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929. 
  • The Child Labour (Protection and Regulation) Act, 1986 
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 
  • The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992.
  • The Pre-Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Technique (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 
  • The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. 
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. 
  • The Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 
  • The Young Persons (Harmful Publication) Act, 1956. 
  • The Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. 
  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Inclusion of Child Protection in Five Year Plans

The National Policy for Children 1974 resulted from a decision made during the fifth five-year plan to concentrate on child protection, shifting the emphasis from welfare to the development of the child. The Indian government then expresses its commitment to the development and well-being of children in every five-year plan. According to the Planning Commission's Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007–2012), “Development of the child is at the center of the Eleventh Plan” and “Provision of child safety will be a crucial intervention in the Eleventh Plan.” Protection from abuse, exploitation, violence, and neglect is referred to as "Child Protection."

Initiatives at Policy Level:

  • India‟s National Policy for Children 1974 provides a framework for policy and planning for children.
  • National Charter for Children was notified in the Gazette of India on 9th Feb., 2004. 
  • National Plan of Action for Children, 2005. 
  • Guidelines governing adoption of Children, 2011. 
  • The Supreme Court of India has banned corporal punishment for children on December 1, 2000 when it directed the State to ensure "that children are not subjected to corporal punishment in schools and they receive education in an environment of freedom and dignity, free from fear".

Recent Initiatives:

The Commissions for Protection of the Child Rights: 

The Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament (December 2005)9, authorized the creation of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in March 2007. In accordance with the Act, statutory organizations such as a National Commission at the federal level and State Commissions at the state level may be established. The Commissions are being established to ensure that children's rights are properly upheld and that laws and programs pertaining to children are carried out in an efficient manner. On 31.7.2006, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was established, and the Rules for Implementation of the Provisions of the Act with Respect to the NCPCR were notified. Also established by numerous state governments are State Commissions for the Protection of Children's Rights. To safeguard child protection and child rights, the Commissions are empowered to take initiative on their own. The following additional recent efforts
  • Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Amendment Act, 2011 
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007 
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Rules 2012 
  • National Food Security Act, 2013 
  • Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules 2010 
  • Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (www.rteindia.com) 8. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

What we can do? :

The reader gains a perspective on child protection through this module, as well as knowledge to raise awareness and sensitivity toward child protection. Let's look at some of the projects that could be implemented.
  • Gain self-awareness and acceptance of your own needs for kid protection and difficulties with children.
  • Using various techniques, such as puppet shows, movies, discussion shows, etc., on different occasions and festivals, to raise awareness and sensitivity among the family and society.
  • Developed networks with nonprofit and governmental organizations active in the field with the purpose of sharing information and developing action plans.
  • Intervention should be made if a youngster is discovered in a difficult or contradictory circumstance.
  • Inform the public on child protection policies and initiatives. Continue your education, both for yourself and others, as it is the only way to safeguard our next generation against exploitation and injustice.

References

  1. Adenwala, Mahrukh (2006), Child protection and juvenile justice system for juvenile in conflict with Law Child line India Foundation, Mumbai. 
  2. Bajpai, Asha (2010), The legislative and Institutional framework for protection of Children in India, Institute of Human Development and UNICEF, Delhi 
  3. Goonesekere, Savitri (1998), Children, Law and Justice: A South Asian Perspective, SAGE, Delhi Reports 
  4. Child and Law, Indian Council for Child Welfare, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, 1998, page 210. 
  5. Implementation Hand Book for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF, page 1. 
  6. SUB GROUP REPORT, Child Protection in the Eleventh Five, Year Plan (2007-2012), Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi

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