Strict norms for awareness creation, transport and online safety formulated
Delhi became the first State on Friday to lay down comprehensive guidelines for prevention of child abuse. The guidelines are slated to serve as a model for other States.
Formulated by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the detailed guidelines were announced by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. They are divided into chapters covering all the aspects of the issue.
The guidelines come after a spate of child abuse cases in the Capital and six months after a seven-year-old girl was raped inside the gated complex of a municipal school in Mangolpuri. The police are yet to make any headway in the case.
The guidelines lay strict norms for recruitment processes, awareness creation, child protection safeguards, transport and online safety among other things. They are to be followed by all institutions catering to children.
They envisage three major stakeholders playing an important role in its implementation — the institution which houses, educates or provides care facilities for the child; individual stakeholders who are in a position of trust and responsibility; and the overall community to act as watchdog and to ensure that the silence around child abuse is broken.
The guidelines do not allow the recruitment of any person with a criminal record of sexual or physical violence and calls for a thorough investigation into the prior employment and engagement of the person.
It pushes for a uniform and standard teacher training module which will cover a broad spectrum of child protection issues, including recognising suspicious behaviour; being aware of a child who displays erratic and or unusual behaviour; and the ability to engage a child and create a safe environment.
The Delhi Police and the Special Juvenile Protection Units will undergo customised training to upgrade their knowledge of laws as well as to sensitise them towards child-friendly behaviour. Each institution is also expected to employ at least one counsellor and is allowed to make use of the services of para-counsellors when the need arises.
The guidelines also put down strict norms for transportation of children. They call for at least one female ward/guard to be present on school buses until the last child is dropped home. In addition, they mandate that CCTV cameras be installed and maintained at appropriate public spaces within the premises of any of these institutions.
The commission’s chairperson, Arun Mathur, hailed the day as an “important one for the children of Delhi”. He said the guidelines have been put through rigorous scrutiny.
“Since such guidelines for prevention of child abuse did not exist in any systematic manner either in Delhi, other States or even at the Central level, the commission wanted to ensure that the guidelines are finalised in as thorough and well researched a manner as possible, so that these are not only applicable for the Capital but could serve as a model for other States,” he said.
After launching the guidelines, Ms. Dikshit termed them a “wake-up call” and said such a comprehensive document should be extensively shared among schools, institutions, colleges, media and every other stakeholder. “We should make a synopsis of this and distribute it,” she said.