Study reveals low levels of preparedness for child protection

Child welfare continues to be accorded the least priority in planning and implementation of public services or amenities. Other than those institutions, public and private, directly charged with the protection of children, almost all others exhibit a low level of sensitivity to children and low levels of preparedness for child protection, a new study has shown.

Conducted by Childline 1098 — a helpline service for children in distress — the study shows that only 6 per cent of institutional homes maintain records of abuse cases. Less than a fourth of the Juvenile Justice Boards sit on regular working days, while 44 per cent have met only once a week.

Child labour, marriages

Twenty-eight schools have reported drop-outs due to child labour, while 21 per cent reported dropouts following child marriages. Of the cases reported by the Juvenile Justice Boards, only 38 per cent are disposed of in less than four months, 35 per cent between four and six months and 26 per cent cases took more than six months.

The study recommends a national child protection network that would work towards sharing, collating, and developing tools.

Only 29 per cent of the Child Welfare Committees comply with all the requirements of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 for composition of the committee while 88 per cent committees reported that the cases were brought to them within 24 hours.

Worse, less than 10 per cent police stations have a designated space for dealing with children, 30 per cent of railway security forces have booths that provide assistance to missing and other vulnerable children.

Railway security forces came across the highest number, 87 per cent, of cases of children in need of care and protection. Similarly, display of information on child protection issues is observed in less than 10 per cent bus stations while 23 per cent of bus station managers were aware of the Juvenile Justice Act.

Further, only 4 per cent of schools are providing filtered water to children, 77 per cent schools provide non-filtered water while the remaining did not provide water at all.

Rather surprisingly, 92 per cent government schools reported the existence of parent-teacher associations against 74 per cent private schools. Availability and accessibility of social workers and therapists across all centres is under 35 per cent.

The study, conducted in 11 States, assessed the protection mechanism and the survey was done at six spaces in each State which were chosen randomly. These spaces included public services (schools and public health care) public institutional care (children homes), statutory bodies (juvenile justice boards, child welfare committees), public safety (police, children's courts), common spaces (railway stations, bus stops), and community-based non-residential spaces (day care centres).

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