In India, child abuse is at its infant stage as a social issue that requires attention and intervention. The bodily, sexual or mental abuse, particularly by the caretakers or parents, is generally known as child abuse. [i]Child abuse is a corrupt deed committed by an individual and is treated as a crime. An act or inability by a mother or father or caretaker which results in real or potential damage to infant can include abuse of children and can take place in an individual home, educational institutions or societies in which the child interacts. Child abuse involves both committing acts and omissions by parents or guardians who cause real or threatened harm to the child.
Abuse of children is all that results in any actual and potential harm to the development of the child, preservation, development of the kid or its dignity as part of the bond of responsibility. Professionals and the public at large are not often unanimous about habits which constitute a child’s physical abuse.
THE PROMINENT ABUSES
Physical abuse is frequently not perpetrated in isolation, but in a configuration of behaviours, including authoritarian control, stress-causing activities and a lack of family warmth. These include hits, kicks, kicks on sensitive parts, bits, squeezes, scalding, burns, poisons and choking. It’s a great deal of physical abuse to children. [ii]The majority of countries with child abuse legislation consider it illegal to deliberately cause tremendous injuries or behaviours that put a child at additional risk for causing serious injury.
Major injuries or dislocations in various healing phases can arouse suspicion of abuse. Breaches, scuffs, burns, a broken bone, lacerations, or repeated mistreatment which might result in physical injury may be physical abuse. Physical abuse, such as re-victimization, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress, dissociative disorders, depressive symptoms, anxiousness, suicidal thinking, eating irregularities, drug abuse, or aggressions may in the future result in brain and cognitively disabled health problems. In children, physical abuse has also been associated with adult homelessness.[iii]
Failure to provide necessary food, clothing, food and water, medical attention or guidance to the extent that nutrition, security or well-being of infant is assaulted by damage is the negligence of the child by the parent and another person who has the obligation for the child. Improper care has always been the lack of consideration from the caretakers of a child or lack of care, love and nutrition which are the necessary needs of the child’s survival.
SEXUAL VIOLENCE, NEGLECT AND THREATENING FIGURES
Sexual abuse is a type of sexual violence involving a minor’s sexual activity. Any form of sexual intercourse, cannot be agreed from the side of a child. The sexual contact between an offender and a child must not be included in the abuse of children. Sexual abuse of children includes: Subject to a minor, masturbating, intercourse or persuading a minor to ejaculate, obscene calling, email messages, or electronic interaction.[iv]
The 2014 UNICEF study, estimates that at some point in their lives around 120 million girls under the age of 20 were exposed to forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts. Boys also record sexual harassment encounters but they do so to a lesser degree than girls.[v] Child Labor is also a Child Abuse as it is an abuse to a child’s physical, mental and sociological health. Although noting the challenge of obtaining accurate figures for the number of domestic child labourer worldwide, the study says they form a large portion of the world’s more than 200 million working children today. The study cites various country figures, including studies showing that in Indonesia 700,000 children are in domestic labour, in Brazil 559,000, in Haiti 250,000, in Pakistan 264,000, in Kenya 200,000 and in Sri Lanka 100,000. ILO estimates suggest that 218 million child workers were employing dangerous work in 2004, from which 126 million were employed. In sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt and Sudan, it is calculated that the traffickers are forced to endure to 3 million young women each year to genital mutilation.[vi]
In India, child abuse often occurs in the house or through family members. Most public domains are also focused on abuse, such as child labour, sex trafficking, illicit relationships, etc. This can be caused by the traditional family in India and its involvement throughout this structure for children.
Young children in India depend heavily on their relatives and family people, and even after they leave their parents, they proceed to have subservient and obedient roles toward one their parents. Children living under domestic violence environment are at higher risk of mental, physical and sexual abuse, experiencing emotional and behavioural disorders and higher vulnerability to other traumas in their lives.
Many researchers find that if unchecked, the effects of child abuse and neglect can have a profound impact on the physical and mental health of children, their ability to control emotions and desires, their success in education, and the relationships they develop as children and as adults. The researchers suggest an “immediate, coordinated” national strategy to effectively understand, treat and prevent child abuse and neglect, mentioning that annually, abuse and neglect cost an estimated $80 billion in the actual expenses of hospitalization, law enforcement and child welfare and the indirect costs of special education, juvenile and adult criminal justice, homelessness and mass unemployment.[vii]
The Indian judicial system recognizes in various forms of sociopathic abuses resulting from poverty, like malnutrition, poor education, ill health, carelessness, etc. And yet India has no law protecting children from domestic abuse. Parental maltreatment is likely to damage children in a very different way, both physically and psychologically. However, in order to fight against child rights, India has recently been boosted by the “Act for the Protection of Child Against Sexual Offenses 2012 (POCSO)”[viii] and the Law on Inhumane Trafficking (Prevention). This was created to provide a protective system for children in which the offenders could be punished. The Act describes a child as being any person under the age of eighteen. This also requires arrangements to keep the child from being re-victimized by the Indian justice system. Increasing awareness of legal remedy has also resulted in an increase in the proportion of cases of child abuse lodged as a result of a combination of convictions.
In 2018, 109 children were sexually abused in India every day, according to data from the National Crime Record Bureau, which showed a 22 per cent increase from the previous year in such cases.[ix] Child abuse has a big negative impact on the life of a child as well as the life of parents. The immediate effect is instantly felt for both physical and social traumas. Furthermore, it can lead to long-lasting physical and psychological trauma throughout the lifetime. This trauma also occurs to other children, households and social structure in the way the suffering child uses to communicate with them.
DO WE AS PARENTS MATCHUP TO IDEAL DETERMINANTS OF PARENTING?
The idea of a good parent isn’t something that’s set or absolute. The characteristics of a good parent to one person may not match the characteristics of someone else. Yet in general, there should be some characteristics and behaviours observed in parents that have strong parenting skills.
Modern parents have all the access to the entire internet and still, they do not follow single authority. It’s difficult to know whom or what to believe.[x] Focusing on balancing expectations, obligations, and switching between your children’s needs, other family members, and yourself plays a crucial part in the act of parenting. Parents are not unusual to disregard their self-critical attitudes and negative self-image by projecting them onto their child. When they do so, they are excessively dismissive of the youngster’s expected qualities and characteristics. As a result, kids start viewing themselves through a negative lens, which will stick with them throughout their lives.
There has to be a creation of a strict mechanism from the side of both the guardians and the government to curb child abuse. The family members and parents should start educating and protecting children against using the notion of unacceptable “unhealthy touch” in relation to sexual threats. This exchange of information needs to be consistent, courteous and honest and to educate children how their sexual orientation works so that they do not intimidate others unknowingly.
Conclusively, around 470 million people in our country are under 18 years of age and account for 41 per cent of the total population of India. Child abuse problem is common in India as well as in many other nations, there is a need to acknowledge its dimensions and intricacies. The author urges the government offices to start taking the first step that is to spread awareness in tackling child abuse. We can learn about the cause & also make others learn, reduce the chance, talk with your child actively and engage with it. It helps to create a happy, attentive and accountable child to parents. It also provides adult platforms and opportunities for interaction, contribution and contribution to a happy child’s development.
“Child abuse and neglect is a serious public health problem which requires immediate, urgent attention” – Anne Petersen, professor at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan.
[i] Catherine Lyden, Uncovering Child Abuse, LIPPINCOTT NURSINGCENTER, (2011), https://www.nursingcenter.com/journalarticle?Article_ID=1168384&Journal_ID=54016&Issue_ID=1168383#P75
[ii] Physical Abuse, NSPCC, https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-is-child-abuse/types-of-abuse/physical-abuse/
[iii] What is Physical Abuse? – Definition & Signs, STUDY.COM20, (Mar. 20, 2019), https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-physical-abuse-definition-signs.html
[iv] Sexual Violence against Children, UNICEF, (Sept. 28, 2018), https://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58006.html
[vi] Press Release, World Day Against Child Labour: New ILO report highlights plight of children in domestic labour, ILO, (June. 11, 2004), https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/newsroom/news/WCMS_005207/lang–en/index.htm
[vii] Brigid Schulte, Effects of child abuse and neglect, if untreated, can last a lifetime, study finds, THE WASHINGTON POST, (Sept. 12, 2013), https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/new-report-finds-that-untreated-the-effects-of-child-abuse-and-neglect-can-last-a-lifetime/2013/09/12/1edc0bdc-1bc7-11e3-82ef-a059e54c49d0_story.html
[viii] The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, No. 32, Acts of Parliament, 2012, https://wcd.nic.in/sites/default/files/POCSO%20Act%2C%202012.pdf
[ix] Nayanika Sengupta, 109 children sexually abused every day in India in 2018: NCRB, INDIA TIMES, (Jan. 16, 2020, 06:54 AM), https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/109-children-sexually-abused-every-day-india-2018-1636160-2020-01-12
[x] Perri Klass and Lisa Damour, How to be a Modern Parent, THE NEWYORK TIMES, https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/guide-to-modern-parenting
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vatsal is a third-year student of Institute of Law Nirma University, Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He has an interest in Criminal Law and Human Rights. He has worked as a student coordinator/intern at NGOs like HRLN, Indore, and Mano Vikas, Ujjain.