Spare the Child and Spoil the Rod!

Guest Blog by Iti Rakshit in Kolkata


Photo: India Daily

Child abuse is a common phenomenon in many developing countries. To protect child rights India recently passed a bill to ban corporal punishment in schools.

In a country where less than half the number of children goes to school, it is ironic that crimes committed by school teachers against children are on the rise. The government’s efforts at improving literacy is doomed if this trend of inflicting corporal punishment on school children is not stopped. It is no secret that a high percentage of school drop-outs are due to corporal punishments in school.

The Indian parliament is in the process of passing a bill that bans child abuse in the form of corporal punishment in schools, public places, and neighborhood or at home. Such legislation, though late, should be lauded, especially in India, where children are abused and exploited for personal and commercial use. Laws are good but the real cure lies in people’s awareness of child rights, sensitivity towards children’s needs and a positive attitude towards eradicating this social evil.
Abuse in the Form of Child Labor

ILO (International labor Organization) statistics show that more than 73 million children below the age of fourteen are engaged in full time commercial activities and labor all over the world. Child labor is a serious problem in India which alone accounts for more than 20 million children working in factories manufacturing carpets, fireworks and in glass blowing units. These children should be in schools as free education until the age of fourteen is guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights.

The Indian Constitution contains certain clauses regarding child labor that is communicated through the Directive Principles of State Policy and the Fundamental Rights. However, they are not enforced effectively and have not been able to tackle this menace successfully. Poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and social apathy are the main causes that encourage child labor. Religious and social institutions and people’s attitudes can sometimes become barriers in removing child labor and exploitation.

Child abuse in the form of physical torture, emotional or mental trauma, sexual abuse and general neglect is deemed punishable offense in India. The laws are getting more stringent and punishments more severe. This is something that will act as a deterrent and allow less people to escape through the loopholes in the present laws.

Child Trafficking is Organized Crime Against Humanity

Child trafficking is a flourishing trade in many parts of the world. It is a form of organized crime and is rampant in more than 130 countries in the world. It is not restricted to the developing nations but is a flourishing trade in many affluent East European countries as well. Russia among other East European countries is one of the leading transit and destination areas for human trafficking for purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. An estimated 50% of human trafficking victims are minors below the age of eighteen.

India is trying to combat human trafficking but the nature of the crime is such that all cases of human trafficking are not registered with legal authorities. More effective results are anticipated by creating a wider framework of laws that are binding on the citizens and in enforcing them strictly. India also has a code of conduct for Internet Service Providers in order to regulate professional practices and keep a check on pornography and free online exchange of prurient material.

The Biggest Challenge Lies Ahead

There have been several child development plans, welfare schemes and human rights programmes concerning awareness of children’s interests since India’s independence in 1947. However, the plight of children across the nation has not improved significantly and continues to be insecure. The most important concerns are the adverse child sex ratio, child mortality ratios, wide gender gaps in literacy, escalating violence against children especially against the girl child.

Child abuse is not restricted to poor, illiterate or marginalized population alone. It is often found even in middle-class and upper class families though they are not reported openly. It is true that poverty, illiteracy and social insecurity add to the woes of the girl child. There are enough laws and statutes that protect the rights of children in India. The real challenge, however, lies in implementing the provisions of these laws and bringing offenders to book.

It is important to remember that the children of today are the adults of tomorrow. The future is in their hands. If they are not given the opportunity to grow and blossom today then the future will definitely look bleak. It is the adults of today who have to shape this human asset and take responsibility for their well being. Let them not be accused of neglecting the children and wasting the potential of the country’s future generations.
Iti Rakshit has been involved with education and academics as a teacher and corporate trainer for the past twenty-one years. She has taught literature as a professor, worked with NGOs as an administrator and academic advisor. Iti hails from from the warm and welcoming “City of Joy”, Kolkata in India


  1. Barbara Becki says

    I wholeheartedly concur. Stop the child abuse, now.

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