Children from across the State would now be able to voice their opinions on issues regarding protection of their rights directly to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights through a web forum.

The commission, established recently on the lines of the National Commission for Protection of Child’s Right, is planning to set up an e-forum, which will help the commission to closely interact with the children and address their concerns, Chairperson of the State Commission Neela Gangadharan said.

She was speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of ‘Debate@0-18, a debate session for children, jointly organised by the State Commission for Protection of Child’s Rights and Kudumbasree. Minister for Social Justice M.K. Muneer inaugurated the debate session at the Kanakakkunnu Palace on Saturday.

According to Mrs. Gangadharan, the plan was to link the forum with the schools so that the children could voice their concerns.

“The schools are great places to start the forum as Kerala’s schools cover a majority of the child population, unlike in the northern States, where this percentage is low. The commission needs to interact with the children closely to understand their problems.

While it is difficult to conduct direct interactions, given the large number of schools, the practical idea is to invite the children to share their problems through the online media,” she said.

She said it was necessary to listen to what the children had to say and take their views to identify the area of intervention and to effectively implement the rules for their protection.

Children interacted with officials from government agencies related to child rights and protection at Debate@0-18.

Seventeen- year-old Omesh, agreed to speak on two conditions.

For one, he is not a child anymore and secondly, it was time for people to take him seriously. Clearly, he had much to say about the lack of protection for children in the State and how “the loopholes in the law are an encouragement to criminals.” But for now, he is happy that the government was finally taking steps to ensure that their voices are being heard.

Ill-treatment

Ashik said he wanted to discuss the issue of ill- treatment of children by bus conductors in private buses.

He says that often girls are treated badly by the bus conductors and there should be strict rules to ensure that children are safe in buses. Opinions on the lack of toilet facilities for boys in schools were also raised.

The children also wanted the officials to ensure that the ban on pan masala near school premises is implemented effectively.