An analytical study of child abuse in India
Bhawna and Shaily Jain
Contact :- Bhawna- 8295350600, firstname.lastname@example.org and Shaily Jain:- 8743920441, email@example.com
Institution Name :- Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High court
An analytical study of child abuse in India
Abstract: – The growing complexities of life and changed social-economic conditions have exposed the children to new and different forms of Abuse. Regardless of Laws enforced by government to tackle the situation, nothing has changed much. Child abuse is an issue which is misunderstood and underestimated in India. The cases of child abuse in India are rapidly increasing. It has prolonged impact on the life and development of child. Child abuse can be prevented only if proper reformative measures used by government with strict implementation.
Keywords – Child abuse, child exploitation, neglect, emotional abuse, tips to prevent child abuse
The biggest social stigma attached to a society is that of a child abuse. A child can be abused physically, sexually or mentally. It can be in form of injury, neglect or negligent treatment, blaming, forced sexual stimulation and activity, incest exploitation and sexual abuse. Child abuse can take place in homes, schools, orphanages, residential care facilities, on the streets, in the workplace, in prisons and in place of detention. Violence in any form has a very deep impact on the overall development of the child. The child abuse results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health. Fifty three percent of children in India face some form of child sexual abuse. Regardless of every affirmative action taken with respect to children through numerous acts and amendments, their condition has not changed much over time .
Who is child?
Child abuse can be defined as any act, failure or negligence on the part of any individual, adult or child, that leads to a severe threat to the life and development of a child and result in prolonged physical and psycho – social impacts on his-her health and well being. Child abuse in all its forms manifestations is a global issue that has been highly misunderstood and underestimated over the years.
It is therefore necessary to bring about a holistic approach to the study of child abuse and its impact on the life of children, stating who is child in India, the classification of child abuse, statistics of child abuse in India, causes of child abuse and finally addressing the reformative measures that can be taken to come up with a better future for the new generations.
Dilemma of Age of Child under Indian context:-
Generally, child can be defined as a person of age less than 18 years. But age of child varies from one statute to other which results in dilemma. The dilemma begins right from the definition of “child”. Different acts and statutes define the child variously as regards the requirement of age as follows :-
Statutes/Act Age of child
Indian majority act, 1875 18 year
The children (pledging of labour) act, 1933 15 year
The child marriage restraint act, 1929 21 year For male and 18 year for female
The factories act, 1948 14 years
The apprentices act, 1961 14 years
The women’s and children institutions (licensing) act, 1956 18 years for both female and male
The mine’s Amendment Act 1983 18 years
The child labour (prohibition and regulation act), 1986 14 years
The immoral traffic (prevention) act, 1986 16 years
The juvenile justice, 2001 18 years
The draft bill of national commission for children, 2000 14 years
Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect:-
I. Myth: It’s only abuse if it’s violent.
Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Child neglect, sexual and emotional abuse can inflict just as much damage, and since they’re not always as obvious, others are less likely to intervene.
II. Myth: Only bad people abuse their children.
Fact: Not all abusive parents or guardians intentionally harm their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse problems.
III. Myth: Abuse doesn’t happen in “good” families.
Fact: Abuse and neglect doesn’t only happen in poor families or bad neighbourhoods. These behaviours cross all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
IV. Myth: Most child abusers are strangers.
Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.
V. Myth: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.
Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents .
1. According to NCRB, data 32608 cases were reported in 2017 while 39,827 cases were reported to 2018 under the protection of child from sexual offences act (POCSO).
2. As many as 21,605 child rapes were recorded in 2018 which included 21,401 rapes of girls and 204 of boys, the data showed.
3. The Highest no. Of child raped were recorded in Maharashtra at 2,832 followed by Uttar-Pradesh at 2023 and Tamil Nadu at 1457, the data showed.
4. A total of 67,134 children (19784 male, 47,191 female and 159 transgender) were reported missing in 2018. As many as, 781 cases of use of child for pornography or storing child pornography material was also recorded in 2018, mere the double that of 2017, the data showed .
5. The situation has not changed much in recent times. As reported in the media, the Supreme Court has listed 24,212 cases of child rape registered during January-June 2019, of which trial of only 900 have been completed.
Overall crimes against children has increased steeply over six time in the decade over 2008-2018 from 1, 41,469 cases in 2019, accordingly to NCRB data from 2008-2018.
Classification of child abuse:-
The centres for disease control and prevention (CDC) classifies the types of child abuse as physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse as neglect. The action may or may not be violent.
Physical abuse :- Physical abuse may include intentionally
• Burning and scalding
• Suffocating or drowning
• Shaking, throwing, hitting, biting
• Non-consensual tickling
• Excessive punching, slapping or tripping
• Any other physical harm
• Tying or forcing the child into a stressed position
• Withholding sleep, food or medication
Signs of Physical abuse- It is important to note down that these are not necessarily signs of abuse and they can occur for other reasons also.
• Unexplained black eyes, broken bones, bruises, bites or boons
• Injuries that may reveal a pattern
• Protesting or crying when it is time to go to a particular location when abuse might occur
• Appearing to be frightened of a specific individual
• Being watchful
• Flinching when touched
Emotional abuse: – Emotional abuse happens when people consistently say things and behaves in a way that conveys to the child that they are inadequate, unloved or only valued as far as the other persons needs are concerned.
Signs of Emotional Abuse:- some of these signs may indicate that a child is experiencing emotional abuse:-
• Appearing withdrawn, anxious or afraid
• Showing extremes in behaviour
• Lack of attachment to parent
• Age- inappropriate behaviour.
Sexual abuse:-sexual abuse is defined as any act that forces or entices a child or young person’s to participate in sexual activities. It is sexual abuse even if the child does not understand what is happening and there is no force, violence or even contact.
Signs of sexual abuse:- signs to the child that may include sexual abuse includes:-
• Talking about being sexually abused
• Displaying sexual knowledge or behaviour
• Withdrawing from friends and others
• Running away from home
• Having nightmares changes in mood or appetite
Neglect: – child neglect is when a parent or caregiver persistently fails to meet the basic physical and psychological needs of a child, resulting in impairment of the child’s health or development. It can involve:-
not providing appropriate food, clothing or medical care
locking a child in a room
not providing adequate shelter
placing of leaving the child in a situation in which they might experience emotional or physical danger or harm
Leaving a child alone for a long time so that they experience harm.
Signs of Neglect:- if a parent or caregiver is behaving in a way that is neglectful, the child may:-
• having medical or dental care needs that are not being met
• have unwashed clothes, skin or hair
• be using drugs or alcohol
• be using food or money all the time
• miss school frequently
• say nobody looks after them at home
Causes of child abuse:-
There are many things that can cause the child abuse. The reasons are often complex and there is no single or simple explanation. Most parents want love and care for their child in a safe home. Stress, tiredness or lack of preventing skills or family support make the pressures of caring or a child overwhelming and can cause abuse. Causes of child abuse can include:-
A. Isolation and lack of support- no family members, friends, parents or community support to help with the demands of parenting.
B. Stress- financial pressures, job worries, medical problems.
C. Unrealistic expectations- a lack of understanding about a child’s developmental stages and behaviour.
D. Drug, alcohol or gambling problems- addiction or substance abuse may affect a parent’s ability to meet their child’s need.
E. Past childhood experience-parents may have experienced abuse as a child in their own families, which could have caused them to develop an insecure attachment style.
F. Law self-confidence-parents may doubt their ability to meet their child need and find it hard asking for help.
G. Mental health problems.
Impact of child abuse:-
For children and young people who have experienced abuse or neglect, the impacts can be complex and long lasting. The emotional and psychological effects of abuse can be devastating and go on to influence every aspect of a child’s life.
There are many external factors that affect the impacts of child abuse and neglect on children.
• The age and developmental status of the child
• The type of abuse (physical, neglect, sexual abuse, emotional)
• The frequency, duration and severity of the abuse
• The relationship between the child and the perpetrator
• The relationship supports a child has available
• The level of connection a child has to their community and culture
1. Physical impacts
In some cases, the physical impacts of abuse can be minor (bruises) or they can be severe (broken bones, internal bleeding). As well as causing physical pain and injuries, the lingering emotional impact of physical abuse also causes damage.
Child abuse and neglect can impact on a child’s brain development and their cognitive abilities, particularly in the areas of self-regulation, speech and language. Research shows that children who have experienced abuse struggle more at school and have reported difficulty paying attention and delayed speech and language development. As well as impaired cognitive abilities, child abuse can also create a sustained state of sustained fear and anxiety for the child which cause distress.
2. Psychological impacts
Child abuse and neglect can have life-long consequences for a child’s mental health. Problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and mood disorders (depression) are all too common among adolescents who suffered abuse as children; the research shows a strong link between childhood abuse and depression later in life.
Children who experience abuse and neglect are more likely to form insecure attachments with people and can impact on a child’s ability to trust and communicate with others and form healthy relationships throughout their life.
3. Behavioural impacts
Child abuse and neglect can lead to behavioural issues in childhood and throughout adolescence. Studies show young people who have experienced abuse have a tendency towards internalising behaviours such as being sad and withdrawn or externalising behaviours such as being aggressive or hyperactive in childhood. These behaviours are more likely to occur if the abuse is sustained and occurs at more than one developmental stage.
While some children experience lifelong consequences of abuse and neglect – others do not. Often, the impacts of child abuse are made up of a combination of the length and severity of the abuse, the environment of the child and the personal qualities of the child. Studies show that having at least one loving care-givers and personal qualities such as good humour, a sense of independence, optimism and self-esteem can reduce the negative impacts of child abuse.
Tips to prevent Child Abuse
To prevent child abuse, here are some tips which are helpful for a parent or caretakers, while dealing with a child:-
I. Try to understand children: – learn how kids behave and what they can do at different ages. Have realistic expectations and be reasonable if children fall short.
II. Watch your words: – angry or punishing language can leave emotional scars for a life time.
III. Get control of yourself before disciplining a child:-set clear rules so the child knows what to expect. Avoid physical punishment.
IV. Take a time-out:- stop if you being to act frustration or other emotional physically.
V. Take regular breaks from your children: – this will give you a release from the stress of parenting full time.
VI. Discipline your children thoughtfully: – never discipline your children when you are upset. Use privileges to encourage good behaviour and time-outs to help your child regain control.
VII. Abuse is not just physical: – both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds. Be a nurturing parent.
VIII. Teach children their rights: – when children are taught they are special and have the right to be safe, they are less likely to think abuse is their fault, and more likely to report an offender.
IX. Report suspected child abuse
X. Volunteer at a local child abuse prevention program
XI. My opinion: – as per my view the age of child provided under The factories Act, 1875, The Apprentices Act, 1961, The Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 i.e. 14 years should be enhanced to 18 years so as to bring it on par with United Nation’s Convention On Rights Of Child, 1989, so that child abuse can be prevented of children who works as a labour at any place.