On 17 January, a Class 1 student was injured when he was allegedly attacked with a sharp-edged weapon in the toilet of a private school in Lucknow. The case is the latest in a string of crimes committed on children that have made headlines of late. In September 2017, seven-year-old Pradyumn Thakur was found lying in a pool of blood in a washroom in another private school.
Is crime against children on a rise? National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) 2016 records hold the answer. Lucknow ranks fifth in the country for crimes against children, with Delhi topping the charts and Mumbai on the second position.
The statistics paint a disturbing picture of India’s metropolitan cities when it comes to the safety of our children. Schools are no longer as safe as they were once perceived to be, while horror stories of children being unsafe in both homes as well as on the streets continue to make headlines.
According to the NCRB data, over 19,000 cases of crimes against children were reported in 2016 with the from top 19 metropolitan cities across the country including crimes like child trafficking and abetment of suicide.
Priyanka Kanoongo, a member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights told Scroll that there are at least 18 separate Central laws and guidelines (including some national ones) governing safety of children across the country.
In addition, state governments, including that of Delhi have issued their own guidelines regulating safety, especially in schools. Now that begs a few questions-,
- If there are laws, why is there such faulty implementation?
- Is there enough awareness among parents and schools across India regarding laws guarding children?
- Are societal prejudices blinding the parents to every day signs of harassment or sexual abuse, giving a free hand to offenders?
There can be a thousand more questions raised, to both authorities and citizens, but the most important things to understand, is that offenders of children have one strong weapon - the child’s innocence.
A journal published by Chandrashekar S.V on crimes against children in India at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Rani Channamma University, Karnataka said:
Children are so innocent in nature; this innocence can be misused by others.Especially, when offences take place it is shameful, and society hates it. There is threat in the mind set of society members, which impacts on parents psychologically as well as socially.
The shocking numbers revealed by the NCRB only aggravate the worries of parents across the country, especially in the metropolitan cities. In a country where sex education is still a taboo, it’s high time schools introduce subjects educating children about their own safety, within and outside the school premises.
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