Special Correspondent

Collector urges panchayat presidents

TIRUCHI: Panchayat presidents should ensure that all school-aged children in their villages were enrolled in schools, Collector Ashish Vachhani has said.

Protection of child rights and welfare was the responsibility of all sections of the society and it called for a social movement. Panchayat leaders had a big role to play in protecting children's welfare, he said speaking at a stakeholders' workshop on Protection of Child Rights organised by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) here on Friday. Children accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the country's population and they were vulnerable to exploitation. Studies have indicated that nearly half of the children were being exposed to some kind of abuse. Not much importance was attached to children's rights and welfare.

The Honorary General Secretary of ICCW, Tamil Nadu, Chandra Thanikachalam, observed that though Tamil Nadu fared better on most social yardsticks, there were few concerns that need to be addressed. The State had a large number of child labourers. A few blocks had the lowest sex ratio, owing to prevailing social attitudes against girl children. Child trafficking was also rampant in the State.

Though State, district and village level watchdog committees have been formed to check child trafficking, there was not much awareness about the same. The ICCW was promoting awareness on issues relating to children's rights and welfare, especially on the provisions of the United Nations Charter on Child Rights, she said.

3-year project

The Project Coordinator of ICCW, A.D. Revathi, said that the organisation was implementing a three-year project on `Child Rights for Children - A Network for Child Protection in Tamil Nadu' to sensitise children on their rights and the stakeholders on protection of children. District-level facilitators have been identified and trained. Over 60 workshops, reaching out to 3,500 children, have been organised so far in the State. These apart, child protection workshops were also organised in all the districts.

The ICCW was striving to bring about a synergy between various Government departments, the community and non-governmental organisations to strengthen the child protection mechanisms, she said.

The Executive Director of LEAD N. Radha and D.Ramu, Director, CARE, and others spoke.