Children are often treated as divine gifts for the humanity. Every human being must treat children with care and affection. Children are also tender beings who can be scarred by witnessing different kinds of atrocities. In view of that, the United Nations declared the United Nations Convention on the Right of Children.
But what is the current situation? Does that declaration seem enough to protect the children?
One of the pertinent issues faced by our country is the overwhelming increase of child abuse. We can find plenty of news articles on a daily basis which report children being abused through various means. These incidents depict the dark and cruel face of our country, otherwise known for a rich and vivid cultural heritage.
The most prominent reason for this ever increasing rate of child abuse, is the lack of ignorance and awareness about the issue. People seldom talk about the issue and like to cover up or ignore such incidents, which often benefit the perpetrators. It is high time now to start creating awareness and encouraging discussions regarding this matter.
Child abuse can be found in every nook and corner of our country in various forms. India is home to 450 million children and records the most number of child sexual abuse cases. About 69% of Indian children are physically abused including more than half of our street children. India also leads the world with the most number of child labourers. We even have a law which supports child labour, which is like spitting our own face. It is also a fact that, in every seven seconds, one adolescent is killed due to violence globally. These facts and figures show the dismal and pathetic situation of our children, who are meant to lead our nation towards a brighter future.
The popular notion regarding child abuse is that, it is sexual and just that. But in reality, it is more than that. WHO defines child abuse as “Any act that is potentially or actually harmful to a child’s health, survival, dignity and development is abuse.”
Child abuse can be broadly classified into five types:
1. Physical Abuse – Physical abuse includes any activity which intends to harm a child physically. This includes beating a child, wounding a child and even murdering a child.
2. Emotional Abuse – Emotional abuse is one of the most common forms of child abuse. This includes ridiculing a child, bullying or making fun of a child, threatening and pressuring a child to meet adult needs and expectations
3. Sexual – The most popular form of abuse. Child sexual abuse is one of the hot and most discussed topics all around the world. This includes molesting a child, forcing a child to touch private parts of a person and exhibiting private parts in front of a child
4. Neglect – Neglecting a child’s well being is also a type of abuse. Not providing ample time to play with or listen to the child, ignoring children’s presence or partiality in upbringing are some examples of neglect
5. Exploitation – Child labour and child trafficking comes under this category
The implications of these activities on a child are unthinkable. For a child, the effects of abuse last a lifetime. If we trace back the history of many criminals, we can find the signs of child abuse and the implications of that, which led them to become anti-social.
Children may be affected by behavioural problems like increased anger and lack of orientation. Depression, suicidal tendency, alcoholism, drug abuse can also be termed as after-effects of child abuse. Many children may cultivate low self-esteem and an array of phobias due to the trauma created. It is also likely for them to become abusers in the future as a measure of revenge.
The common myth regarding abuse is that strangers mostly abuse children and only girl children are abused, but the facts show otherwise. In 95% of the reported cases, the perpetrator is known to the family. It can be a father, mother, brother or any other relatives. Boys are also abused in the country same as of girls, and the rate of such abuses is alarmingly increasing. The major challenge faced related to these incidents is the reluctance of the child’s family to properly report the incident or the manipulation by the concerned authorities to wash off the case.
The only way to contain and prevent these abusive incidents is to act against it continuously. We all have the power to act on it. What we need to do, is just start the movement.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.