Child rights activists have condemned the Education Department’s decision for using the term “juvenile delinquent” in their survey forms as well as the booklet used for the out-of-school-children (OOSC) survey.
After spotting the out-of-school-children, those involved in the survey are expected to categorise the children under various sub-heads such as street children, orphan by looking into the survey form and writing the keywords.
Vani Kantli, State Project Coordinator of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO, said as per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, it was wrong for a government department to use words that make children appear as “criminals”. “There has been a deliberate intention to bring a change in mindset with the amended Juvenile Justice Act. The department should have termed it children in conflict with law.”
The Kannada translation for the word is “bala aparadhi”, which activists say, projects children in “poor light”.
Meena Jain, chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee, Bangalore Urban, said that the terminology used went against the child’s dignity. “The terminology creates a negative mindset. There is a need to understand that there are children in conflict with law because of their circumstances. ”
Meanwhile, chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights H.R. Umesh Aradhya said that it was “irresponsible” on the part of the department to use terms such as these. “The words will have a cascading effect in the minds of the surveyors,” he said.
Further, the booklet also states another category which is “HIV/AIDS/Leprosy affected children” instead of children living with HIV and AIDS which is considered an appropriate terminology.
Responding to this, Mohammed Mohsin, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said that the error had slipped into the form when the questionnaires and booklets were being prepared.
Mr. Mohammed Mohsin said that the error would be rectified. However, officials from the department pointed out that the survey forms and the booklets had already been distributed.