Participants included police officers, tahsildars, ward officials, child welfare committee members and senior school principals from Tiruchi, Dindigul and Karur.

“Which section of children do you think are the most abused?,” the question shot by Collector Jayashree Muralidharan at representatives from government departments and civil societies on Thursday triggered obvious responses from ‘street children’ to ‘orphans’. But the little known truth is the most vulnerable children are under parental care and often exploited by known persons, primarily relatives and friends.

Umbrella scheme

Statistically speaking, every other child living with parents maybe subject to child abuse, but such incidents are often swept under the carpet, noted Ms.Muralidharan. She was inaugurating the workshop organised by the Department of Social Defence and child rights organisation, Save the Children, on implementation of the recently-launched Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS). The scheme is envisaged as an umbrella scheme for various flagship programmes concerning child protection and welfare.

Participants included police officers, tahsildars, ward officials, child welfare committee members and senior school principals from Tiruchi, Dindigul and Karur.

Adults maybe apprehensive in talking about a delicate issue like child abuse to children, but present circumstances warrant that children are sensitised to the issue, Ms.Muralidharan insisted. Children are unaware of distinguishing between bad touch and good touch, between what is permissible and out of limits. A child with adequate awareness will approach her parents readily. The onus of protecting child rights falls on adults for unlike other sections of society that are aggrieved, children are voiceless and lack a platform for expression.

Citing the example of intervention in child marriages in the district, which has increased from two cases in 2010 to 27 in 2012, the Collector hoped similar co-ordinated efforts will result in successful implementation of the scheme. Sudheer Ravindran, state coordinator, Save the Children, Yashodha, district social officer and child welfare consultants, S.Kannayiran and Madhav Somasundaram dwelt on the significance of the scheme.