GUWAHATI, May 27 - The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) has requested government departments and agencies concerned as well as NGOs, to create a safety net for children, especially those returning with their families to Assam, so that they are not subjected to abuse or other forms of rights violation post lockdown.
Expressing apprehension about the possibility of children falling prey to trafficking, child labour, violence, child marriage and other forms of abuse once the lockdown gets over, the ASCPCR has initiated dialogue with the police, civil administration, various agencies and NGOs working in the field of child rights to strengthen the child protection mechanism in State.
“There are manifold issues associated with children returning to Assam. The foremost requirement is to enrol them in the nearest school, so that they get proper formal education in any arrangement of education system. The Commission plans to initiate a dialogue with the Department of Education on this,” ASCPCR Chairperson Sunita Changkakoti told The Assam Tribune.
“Post lockdown, a huge chunk of child population may end up being used as child labourers, forced into child marriage, and many may fall prey to trafficking, violence or sexual abuse. Apart from the existing response system such as Childline (1098) and Women Helpline (181) to report such cases for the protection of the victims, the Commission requests every member of society to come forward to protect the children from falling prey to any form of abuse and violence,” she added.
Also stressing the need to look after the mental health of children of all strata of society during and post lockdown, the ASCPCR said that children becoming addictive to mobile phones may also make them vulnerable to inappropriate sexually explicit content, cyber bullying and cyber crime. “It is thus important for the teachers and parents to have an insight on safe usage of the internet platform to ensure safety of the children when they are using the internet,” it noted.
The child rights panel further opined that being confined at home, the children may develop various forms of mental stress and issues. There may also be cases of abuse and cruelty within the family system. The Commission has also requested all departments and stakeholders concerned to engage with children to create a safety net for them. It further said it would also engage with existing networks such as the panchayats, committees under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, volunteers’ networks, teachers’ associations, NGOs to make information on the child protection mechanism reach the last child.