Build public awareness against child abuse - The New Indian Express

Build public awareness against child abuse

Published: 28th October 2013 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 28th October 2013 12:24 AM

India has earned a bad name in recent years of being unsafe for women. But what is less well known is that it is not safe for children either. A study by the Union ministry of women and child development has found that 69 per cent of children between the ages of five and 12 face abuse and exploitation. What is shocking is that 52.9 per cent of boys and 47 per cent of girls are ill-treated in what has been called a family environment. It cannot be said for certain whether the horrific incident of a 14-year-old boy in Bihar’s Nalanda district, who suffered injuries after being injected with acid in his anus, can be placed in this category since the boy worked in a scrap shop and its owner had punished him for suspected stealing. But it shows that children cannot feel safe either at home or in the workplace.

Considering that 88.6 per cent — an unconscionably high percentage — of children who face abuse in “family situations” are maltreated by their parents, according to the study, the possibility cannot be discounted that such uncaring guardians have little compunction about handing over their wards to sadistic employers, knowing full well that they may be cruelly treated. The incidence in Nalanda underlines the inability of the government and society to curb the shameful acts of viciousness against children at a time when the trend is rising almost all over India.

While beefing up the legal mechanism to curb and reverse the trend, the central and state governments must launch a national campaign to build public awareness against child abuse. It can go hand in hand with the campaign to ensure safety and dignity for women. Mere homilies will no longer do. Parents and teachers will have to be made aware of the fact that no nation can prosper if it remains a silent and ineffectual witness to the callous treatment of future generations.

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