CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
- December 19, 2018, 4:00 pm
The Supreme Court had directed the CBI to investigate allegations involving 17 shelter homes for children, destitute women, beggars and senior citizens in Bihar following the case of sexual abuse of more than 30 girls in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur in the State. The apex court had also asked the Centre to consider framing a national policy on protection of children. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has drafted the child protection draft policy. This will be the first policy dedicated to the protection of children, an area that until now was only a part of the broader National Child Policy, 2013.
NEED FOR A CHILD PROTECTION POLICY
All children deserve a happy childhood and the opportunity to lead a dignified life safe from violence, exploitation, neglect, deprivation and discrimination. India is a young nation, with a child population of more than 472 million. Protection of this 40% of the young population is not only a matter of their human rights but also an investment towards building a robust nation.The Constitution of India recognize children as equal right holder and grants highest priority for their protection and well-being.
APPLICABLITY: The child Protection Policy is applicable to Institutions/Organizations.
AIM:All institutions and organizations should develop a child protection policy and code of conduct for employees in line with the national guidelines and various legislations for protection and welfare of children and display it appropriately . It should be based on the premise of Zero tolerance of child abuse and exploitation
CODE OF CONDUCT :
- The code of conduct for employees/contractual workers must lay down that they should always treat children with empathy and respect, regardless of race, color, gender, sexuality, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
- The code of conduct must lay down that staff members must never use language or behavior towards children that is inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate.
- Develop or induce or support in any way physical/sexual relationships with children.
- The CHILDLINE 1098 and designated officer for child protection are the reporting authority and for taking actions or act according to the guidance.
COURSE OF ACTION :
- Organizing orientation programmes on child protection and various legislations related to it and make it mandatory for all employees at all levels.
- To wait for the appropriate authority (CHILDLINE 1098 , police or Child Welfare Committee members) for taking action or act on their advice and guidance.
- Corporate houses and industries must establish and strengthen monitoring mechanisms to ensure that industry/subsidiaries are not using child labour in any form.
- In case the child requires immediate medical attention before appropriate authorities arrive, to help the child in the best possible way is to update CHILDLINE 1098 and police regarding the situation and whereabouts of the child.
- All research staff must be trained on ethical practices and child friendly procedures. Child friendly zones must be developed in all places for public dealing and Safe spaces for mothers to keep their infants.
LAWS AND CONVENTIONS REALTED TO CHILD PROTECTION
India is also signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and accordingly has a strong legal framework to protect children which include the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015; the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012; Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act 1994; the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act 2005; the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009; Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006; and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016.
The current policy draws upon the safeguards provided under the Constitutions of India, various child-centric legislation, international treaties as well as other existing policies for the protection and wellbeing of children. It aims at providing a safe and conducive environment for all children through the prevention and response to child abuse, exploitation and neglect. This draft policy need to go into the four aspects — creating awareness, prevention, reporting and responding especially a reporting structure involving various nodal bodies and a monitoring mechanism for implementation of the guidelines. Moreover, while it talks about organisations laying down a code of conduct, it doesn’t explain what is acceptable behaviour such as conduct of teachers in schools.
The policy makers should use the opportunity to go beyond the role of institutions and look at the role of individuals. The norms should be designed in such a way that organisations can customize their policies according to the nature of their work, thereby, giving them a sense of ownership on safeguarding children’s rights.
Unlike the National Child Policy, 2013, the latest document doesn’t talk about children who may need additional special protection measures: including those affected by migration, communal or sectarian violence, children forced into begging or in conflict with the law, and those infected with HIV/AIDS. It also doesn’t talk about the role of the state for ensuring the protection of child rights or addressing local grievances. The norms should be designed in such a way that organisations can customise their policies according to the nature of their work, thereby, giving them a sense of ownership on safeguarding children’s rights.