It's the duty of the State to ensure that crimes against children come down. A society where even a single case of crime against children will not be tolerated must be the target.

On the face of it, Tamil Nadu comes off looking better than many States in incidence of crimes against children as per the latest statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau. In reality, however, chilling reports of grievous crimes against children, including rape, sexual abuse and molestation, are being reported nearly daily.

In terms of percentage contribution as part of the total crimes against children, Tamil Nadu marks only 2.04 per cent. That works out to 1188 cases out of the total incidence of 50,683 that NCRB has recorded for 2013. In terms of infanticide, Tamil Nadu’s contribution to the total pool is much higher at 15.85 per cent, rape at 3. 39 per cent and murder at 5.01 per cent.

“Child protection is not about figures alone. We can be happy that we are not as bad as Uttar Pradesh, for instance. But that makes no sense. Actually, we do not have the freedom to be lenient with ourselves, going only by the NCRB data,” explains Girija Kumarababu, secretary, Indian Council for Child Welfare, here.

The ground realities present a harsher picture. Not very long ago was the Pollachi case where two girls who were in a home run by non-governmental organisation were raped. “In this case for instance, we need to take a re-look at the monitoring system for homes that accommodate children, both governmental and non governmental,” Ms. Kumarababu says.

No. of cases (including pending from past): 2036
Final report submitted: 215
Charge-sheet submitted: 821
False claims: 128
No. of cases pending: 872
S. Kannayiram, retired field officer, Social Defence Department, and a child rights activist says, year on year the crimes against children are only going up. “There is evidence from NCRB itself to support this. But there is other way of looking at it: Reporting of crimes against children is on the increase, because of increasing awareness and media attention to the cause,” he says.

Even these figures are merely the tip of the iceberg, Ms. Kumarababu insists. They are by no means decisive. While reporting of cases has improved, a lot more needs to be done in terms of police action, follow-up, investigation and pursuing each case to its logical legal conclusion.

Earlier rape cases, for instance, were not being registered, Mr. Kannayiram adds. However, since the Delhi rape case, the police are a little more sensitive and file FIRs when rape cases are reported.

Activists call for the strengthening of the State Committee for Protection of Child Rights, a custodian of sorts for child rights in Tamil Nadu. The members must adopt a strong position in order to ensure the happiness and safety of children within the State.