Separate child welfare from Women and Child Development ministry: NGO

Bengaluru: Prior to Children’s Day, experts and child activists from the state have urged the government to address several issues that affect the well-being of children. Already, a call for a separate ministry for children has been gaining traction with the Child Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP), an NGO in the city, claiming that issues related to women and their rights overshadow those that affect children under the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

A recent survey by CRISP revealed that children faced several serious problems, most of which can be attributed to parental neglect due to rising matrimonial disputes and cases of child custody being dragged to family courts. School dropout rates even before matriculation have increased over the years because of this and lack of parental coaching.

The survey stated that nuclear families and disconnect with grandparents too have affected children’s psychology often leading them in the wrong path during their formative years. “Poor health and unhygienic conditions in schools, strain and stress due to peer and academic pressure, pollution and traffic have also made situations challenging for children over time. Lack of basic knowledge on sex education has led to teenage pregnancies among girls and drug abuse among boys,” the report pointed out.

Mr Kumar Jahgirdar, national president, CRISP, stated that most perpetrators of child abuse are persons in whom the child has invested trust and authority. “70% of abused children suffer abuse helplessly as they stand no chance of reporting it to anyone. Children from the age group five to 12, both boys and girls, are equally at high risk most of the time,” he said.

The NGO has drawn up a list of demands, ‘warning’ all political parties of flooding the upcoming general elections with ‘NOTA’ votes. “Child rights have been ignored by all political parties as children do not fall within vote banks. As responsible citizens, parents should unite to demand that a separate ministry for children and budgetary announcements for promoting child welfare should be included in all election manifestos. Else, NOTA votes will be marked as a sign of protest,” he warned.

List of demands

  • Delink Ministry of Women and Child Development to create an exclusive Child Welfare Ministry
  • Make sex education compulsory for high school students
  • Enforce child labour laws and punish such employers severely
  • Strict action should be taken against schools failing to implement Right To Education
  • Open more 24/7 Child Help Line Centres at taluk level and train children how to report incidents
  • Implement Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act forcefully
  • Set up more special courts across states to ensure child abuse cases complete trial within 6 months
  • Shared parenting should be encouraged by family courts to keep children away from Parental Alienation Syndrome.

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