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Monday, April 05, 2010

April – “Child Abuse Prevention Month”

On April 1st, 2010 President of the US signed a proclamation declaring the month of April as “National Child Abuse Prevention Month” (Click here to see the proclamation). So this brings up a question “What is child abuse” to begin with?

There are different versions of definitions but as a whole they all convey the same message. One definition says that physically harming a child not by accident to saying that any violation of articles of UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child).

All in all every definition conveys the same message that is child is been abused to harm him/ her physically and/ or psychologically and/ or emotionally.
In India, Child Abuse is a huge problem. In 2007, government of India had released the finding of a study that said more than 60% of our children below the age of 14 are subjected to abuse of one kind or the other (including sexual abuse committed by a person known to the child). If the government is saying that, then the reality must be worse than what is reported.

Research shows that the parents that are empowered with required information and skills to protect their children do better than those that do not. But the challenge in India is how do we empower families that are not literate adequately to read or to understand the subtle messages conveyed through the media?

There’s no other way to empowering than through education but that education has to be informally delivered in informal settings (such as Self Help Groups, Vegetable Markets and Barber shops etc). On the other hand empowerment has to be done with the children and their resiliency has to be improved to face the face the challenges head on. Child ought to be taught about their rights and responsibilities to identify the violators.

Apart from the parents and children, community as a whole need to be made aware of the problem at hand and enable them to play a catalytic role. For example, when someone encounters an instance of child abuse, they can bring it to the notice of appropriate authorities.

Child abuse is a menace that needs immediate attention lest we might have a generation of citizens that may be living with hidden trauma that is difficult to treat and has enormous economic cost to the nation as a whole.

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