Children’s Issues and their Rights and Programmes

Nineteen percent of the world’s children live in India, constituting 42 percent of India’s total population. “The Ministry of Women and Child Development published a report on Child Abuse (2007) following their sample research of 12447 children, 2324 young adults and 2449 stakeholders across 13 states. “The main findings of 2007 study report included: 52.22% of children reported having faced sexual abuse, among them 52.94% were boys and 47.06%, girls. Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse among both boys and girls as well as the highest incidence of sexual assaults.

“The study revealed that almost half of the abusers were known to those who were abused. Child abuse refers to the intended, unintended and perceived maltreatment of the child including psychological and physical abuse, debasing, degrading and demeaning the worth and dignity of the child, deprivation of the basic needs of the child emotional abuses, sexual abuses, neglect and the like. Among the different kinds of abuses, young children in the age of 5–12 years group have the most risk of abuse. Instances of physical abuse included:

(1) Two out of every three children are abused;

(2) 88.6% of the physically abused were those who were abused by their parents;

(3) Among those abused, around 50.2% children worked seven days a week. Examples of sexual abuse included : (1) Of the numerous sampled, 53.22% children had reported having faces one or the other form of sexual abuse; Indian Polity and Governance’67 (2) Around 5.69% had reported having had sexually assaulted; (3) Children of Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi had the highest incidents of sexual assaults;

(4) “Those children who worked or lived on streets had the highest incidents of sexual assaults;

(5) Around half of the abusers were known to the abused;

(6) Most sexually abused children did not report the matter to anyone. Examples of emotionally abused and the girl children neglected included: (1) Among those sampled, almost every child faced emotional abuse; (2) Almost equal percentage of both girls and boys had faced emotional abuse; (3) 83% of such abuses were the parents of the abused; (4) 48.4% of the girls wished if they would have been boys, they would have been better placed than now. “The ministry gives a table, given below, related to the critical concerns of the children:

Critical Concerns

  • Every fifth child in the world lives in India
  • Every third malnourished child in the world lives in India
  • Every second Indian child is underweight
  • Three out of four children in India are anaemic
  • Every second new born has reduced learning capacity due to iodine deficiency
  • Decline in female/male ratio is maximum in 0–6 years: 927 females per 1000 males
  • Birth registration is just 62% (RGI-2004)
  • Retention rate at primary level is 71.01% (Elementary Education in India Progress towards UFF NUEPA Flash Statistics DISE 2005–2006)
  • Girls’ enrolment in schools at primary level is 47–79% (Elementary Education in India Progress towards UEE NUEPA Flash Statistics DISE 2005–2006)
  • 1104 lakh child labour in the country (SRO 2000)
  • IMR is as high as 58 per 1000 live birth (SRS – 2005)
  • MMR is equally high at 301 per 100,000 live births (SRS, 2001–03)
  • Children born with low birth weight are 46% (NFHS-III)
  • Children under 3 with anaemia are 79% (NFHS-III)
  • Immunization coverage is very low (polio – 78.2%, measles – 58.8%, DPT – 55.3%, BCG – 78% (NFHS-III)

“The Constitution of India and the laws passed by the Parliament have done a lot to protect the children and promote their welfare and development, education and health care. Articles 14, 15, 19, 21, 21A, 23, 24 and 39 have reiterated the State’s commitment to the protection, safety, security and well-being of all persons, including children. “The national polices have been formulated so as to respond, as effectively as possible, to International conventions and Declarations related to the children. India’s own polices, in this regard, include

  • National Policy for Children, 1974,
  • National Policy On Child Labour, 1987,
  • National Nutrition Policy, 1993;
  • National Charter for Children, 2004,
  • National Plan of Action for Children, 2005.

“The laws passed by the Parliament with regard to the rights, well-being and development of the children include: Guardian and Wards Act, 1890; Factories Act, 1954; Orphanages and Other Charitable Homes Act, 1960; Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976; Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986; Juvenile Justice Act, 2005, 2011; Protection of the Rights of the Child Act, 2005; Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006; Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act, 2012. “The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (2007), headed by Kaushal Singh (2013), ensures that all laws, programmes, schemes, and projects related to the welfare of the children are properly and effectively implemented.

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