National

Now, children can report sexual abuse online

Schools asked to share information about website

The Maharashtra government has asked schools to circulate information about an online complaint lodging system developed by the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights against child sexual abuse. On the website of www.ncpcr.gov.in, the government has started a POCSO e-box, which could be clicked to lodge a direct complaint about abuse.

A child need not explain what she/he went through. The task has been made simple by just clicking one of the pictures on the site, to express the kind of abuse faced.

The idea is to reach out to every child victim of sexual abuse and extend help under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 and ensure that the abuse does not continue, the State said in its government resolution.

The initiative was started to encourage children to open up as it was found that most offenders were close relatives or acquaintances who repeated the offences over a period of time affecting the psyche of a child for the entire life, the note said.

In India, about 53 per cent of children surveyed had admitted to facing one or the other form of sexual abuse in a survey conducted in 2007. In the GR, the state admitted that the number of cases of child sex abuse were on the rise. It said that children were confounded as they did not know about whom to approach to lodge a complaint. Schools have been asked to put up information about the website on their school notice boards. Principals and teachers have also been asked to share information to their students about this facility.

A senior education department official said: “This is a central government initiative. All states have been asked to circulate information on this and we have accordingly asked the schools to do so. Complaints registered will be acted upon by the NCPCR and we have nothing to do with it. We just received the order to spread awareness about this facility among students and we have done it.”

An official working in the field of CSA said: “It’s alright to ask children to come forward and complain, but they should also be informed about what could happen afterwards. At times the legal process could get so traumatic for a child, that the child might just regret complaining about it. The POSCO Act is commendable but its implementation could be an area of concern and challenge. For e.g. Police officers are expected to visit home only in civil clothes and take statement of the child. Sounds great but does this happen? Not much has been done in the field of CSA; only one study has been done on CSA by the central government and that also way back in 2007. No further studies or surveys have been conducted afterwards.”

Pooja Taparia, chief executive officer of Arpan, an NGO that works to educate students about child sex abuse said: “This is a great initiative provided it is coupled with creating awareness among children about personal safety. Students have no idea whom to approach for help and any efforts in this direction by the government is really commendable. However, it would be more helpful if students are also informed about safe and unsafe touch so that they could share instances of sexual abuse.”

Phalguni Desai, supervisor with NGO, Childline said: “A child has a right to know about his rights. Many kids are not aware of where to approach for help. But, now schools are coming forward to make kids aware about CSA.”

She informed that through its network in 366 cities across the country, Childline reaches out to children who call for help on 1098. “A child is reached within an hour of his complaint. We have an intervention team and our counselors take a call on what to do, depending upon the nature of the complaint and looking at what the child has gone through. If legal intervention is needed then even that is taken care of,” said Desai.

The writer is a freelance journalist

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 5:17:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Now-children-can-report-sexual-abuse-online/article16070269.ece

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