Perception of Violence against Children

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Perception of Violence against Children and Child Abuse: Indian Perspectives : 

Perception of Violence against Children and Child Abuse: Indian Perspectives Dr. Sudhir K. Samantaray Assistant Professor in Psychology Post Graduate Govt. College, Sector-11 Chandigar-160011, INDIA

Children play a crucial role in any country. India is home to 440 million people under the age of 18 —almost 19% of the world's children and more than one-third of the country's population. In India, children’s vulnerabilities and exposure to violations of their protection rights remain a big unresolved question for us till today.

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The manifestations of these violations are various, ranging from child labour, child trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and many other forms of violence and abuse. There is no doubt that over the centuries, children have been subjected to various kinds of physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as neglect.

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By any objective measure, this issue should rank high on the global agenda, but in practice it is surrounded by a wall of silence and perpetuated by ignorance. 53% of Indian children face sexual abuse. And in every 30 seconds one child is being abused by the near and dear ones.

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Today's child is tomorrow's citizen" so goes a popular saying, stressing the need for proper care and protection of the children. India has ratified the UN convention on the “Rights of Child”, which came into force on 2nd September 1990 and our own National Policy for Children was adopted way back in 1974. From time to time various laws and regulations have been adopted to safe guard the needs and rights of children like:

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National Policy for Children, 1974; National Policy on Education, 1986; National Policy on Child Labour, 1987; National Nutrition Policy, 1993; Report of the Committee on Prostitution, Child Prostitutes and Children of Prostitutes and Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children, 1998;

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National Health Policy, 2002; Goa Children Act 2003; National Charter for Children, 2004; National Plan of Action for Children, 2005. However, if we look at the outcome of all the measures that have been taken "on paper" the record is dismal. Child abuse goes unabated in our country, right in front of the eyes of the Law.


CONCEPT OF ABUSE: The definition of abuse is one of the main problems facing researchers and experts in the subject. Its definition implies a social judgement with respect to what is considered adequate for children’s development. The difficulty arises just because there is a lack of social agreement on what might be considered a dangerous and unacceptable way of bringing up children.

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It becomes difficult to draw a line between what is abuse and what is not, or between an abusing family and a non-abusing one. Child abuse is a violation of the basic human rights of a child and is an outcome of a set of inter-related familial, social, psychological and economic factors. The problem of child abuse and human rights violations is one of the most critical matters on the international human rights agenda.

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The term 'Child Abuse' may have different connotations in different cultural milieu and socio-economic situations. A universal definition of child abuse in the Indian context does not exist and has yet to be defined. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) :

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''Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.”

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Abuse can be of many types like physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and even neglecting children and depriving of basic needs. Child Abuse in India takes various forms. This makes it difficult to understand the real dimension of the issue. Child abuse includes physical abuse, physical neglect, sexual abuse and mental (emotional) abuse of a child less than 18 years of age by a parent or other caretaker or any member the society.

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Child abuse has become a major public health problem, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A recent study in India revealed that 50 per cent children suffer from one or another kind of child abuse. Seeing that 40 per cent of our population comprises children/ adolescents, the number of victims can be over 200 millions. The findings are so scary that each home appears unsafe for our young ones.


REVIEW : The review of existing literature in the field of child abuse and violence against children clearly indicates that the nature remains same across the culture and the causes are varying within the cultural set up of any society.


OBJECTIVES: This present study aimed at studying various components of these issues in our contemporary society. It is very unique in its approach to find out overall perception of children and youths with regard to abuse and violence.

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Analyze and study the violence and child abuse among children and youths; Conceptualize the issues of child abuse and violence against children; Outline future prospects and challenges for Child Abuse and Violence against children; Assess the magnitude and forms of child abuse and violence against children;

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Study the profile of the abused children and the social and economic circumstances leading to their abuse; Facilitate analysis of the existing legal framework to deal with the problem of child abuse; and Recommend strategies and programme interventions for preventing and addressing these issues of child abuse and violence against children.


METHODS OF STUDY: A comparative paradigm was adopted to find the nature of child abuse and violence against children. It was intended to study any differences in the perception of abuse and violence among children and youth on one hand and any gender differences with regard to the perception of the said issues on the other hand.


SAMPLES: A total number of 359 samples (N=359, school children=165, young adults=194, males=201, females=158) consisting of school children and young adults were selected randomly from schools and colleges of Chandigarh. Children belonging to the age group of 10-15 and young adults belonging to 15-20 were taken into consideration.


TOOLS OF DATA COLLECTION: Keeping in view the sensitivity of these issues, child friendly questionnaire and interviews were adopted to create an enabling environment for children to respond with ease and share their experiences on different forms of child abuse. The questionnaire was based on Likert’s Five Point Scales of Measurement ranging from highly agree to highly disagree on four types of abuse namely physical, sexual, emotional and child neglect. Personal interview was taken with the respondents those who have identified abuse in any form at home or at institutional levels.


ANALYSIS: The data were analyzed with the help of “t-test” to find out the significant differences between the two groups and mean percentage was calculated to find out perception of abuse and violence as experienced and perceived by the groups.


FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION: The analysis of data clearly indicates that the obtained “t” value for children and young adults is 2.09 which are significant at 0.05 levels. This indicates that there is difference among children and young adults with regard to child abuse and violence against children. The perception of abuse and violence among children is higher than adults, 40.60% and 29.38% respectively.

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It is observed that more abuse is perceived in case of children than adults. Further, it is noticed that “t” value for male and female respondents is 1.93 which is insignificant at 0.05 and 0.01 levels. This clearly signifies that there is no difference with regard to gender factor. Both the girls and boys perceived abuse and violence in same manner. Their mean values are more or less same which indicates that the perception and experiences are same with regard to abuse and violence.

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It is observed that the above findings are differing from the findings of National Study undertaken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt. of India, 2007. This may be attributed to the number of samples and number of institutions undertaken in this present analysis. The incidents are very less in comparison to the reporting about child abuse at national level. Although we can not fully ignore the issues in our society that are disturbing and indicative of what is happening in Indian families and society.

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Considering the difference in the sample size of different age groups of child and youth respondents, it was important to analyze percentage of incidence of physical abuse even within specific age group. When analyzed age group, it was observed that amongst all child respondents in the age group of 10-15 years, 40.60% reported abuse in one or more situations.

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With regard to gender, 43.04% percent of girls perceived abuse where as 31.34% of boys reported abuse. This means that incidence of abuse in one or more situations amongst respondents in the age group of 10-15 years continue to be high in comparison to other age groups. Child respondents from all the evidence groups were asked about the incidence of physical abuse in two situations, one physical abuse in the family and physical abuse by others.

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In addition, child respondents in school and institutions were also specifically asked whether they were physically abused by teachers or staff of the institutions respectively. As a result a child may have reported physical abuse in more than one situation. For example, a child who was physically abused by the teacher may have also faced abuse by family members or others. Similarly, a child in an institution may have faced abuse either by staff in the institution or by family members or in work situation.

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Major Findings: Out of 359 respondents, an overwhelming majority (65.460%) reported no incidents of any type abuse or violence in one or more situations. The rest 34.54% reported abuse or violence at home or at institutional levels. Subjects perceived high level of physical abuse at school level in comparison to home level. In the overall percentage there seemed to be difference in abuse being faced by girls (43.04%) and boys (31.34%). In different age categories, the higher percentage of abuse was reported among younger children (5-15 years) in their counter parts.


PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES AHEAD: The critical analysis of the findings clearly indicates that there is a need to change in the Policy and Legislation of our country to address these issues. In order to enhance the standards of care and build a protective and conducive environment for children in the country, there is a need to develop standard protocols on child protection mechanisms at various levels.

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It has been revealed that the majority of abuse cases take place within the family environment, the perpetrators being close family relatives. A child who has been abused or continues to be in an abusive situation, needs a variety of services, including professional help in the form of trauma counseling, medical treatment, police intervention and legal support. Child protection is a shared responsibility, and for any intervention to be effective there should be a synergy between efforts being made by different stakeholders to address the issues.

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Capacity enhancement and skill up-gradation of those who are already working in this sector are also essential. Further, there is a need to regularly up-grade the skills and capabilities of the civil society organizations. Parents and caregivers are primarily responsible and accountable for the safety and security of the children in their care. Therefore, there is a need to enhance parenting skills, knowledge of the subject and sensitivity, which will help them to handle situations of child abuse and any type of violence against them.

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Life skill education of children to enhance their knowledge and capacity to deal with abuse is essential. It is proposed that this should become an integral part of the school curriculum. Equity is possible if social norms ensure that the girl child lives in a non-abusive environment in which she is cared for and respected. These imbalances need to be addressed by bringing about attitudinal changes in people regarding the value of the girl child. Empowerment of adolescent girls should be done by making them aware of their rights, orientating them on the subject of abuse.

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The media should be used to spread awareness on child rights and how to protect themselves from any type of abuse or violence induced by others. It is absolutely necessary to alert government, civil society and concerned citizens to play a more active and significant role in promotion, respect and appreciation of the rights of the child, and thereby to prevent the abuse of children.

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In the legal arena, the problems in addressing child abuse are not so much related to the absence of law, but more due to the lack of a system of awareness and lack of information which makes this problem that much challenging. The mind set of the individual has to be changed with regard to Child Abuse. More specifically, parental attitude plays very significant role in preventing child abuse and violence to a great extent.


CONCLUSION: Strategic approaches like education for parents, early and regular child and family screening and treatment, child care opportunities, programmes for abused children, life skills training for children and young adults, family support services, public information and education to prevent child abuse and violence against should be adopted.

There fore, protection of child rights and prevention of abuse and violence against children require joint venture at all levels starting from home to Government. Each and every citizen of any society is to be conscious enough to fight against child abuse and violence in any form for the betterment of society at regional, national and global level. : 

There fore, protection of child rights and prevention of abuse and violence against children require joint venture at all levels starting from home to Government. Each and every citizen of any society is to be conscious enough to fight against child abuse and violence in any form for the betterment of society at regional, national and global level. I CONVEY MY HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU………….ALL

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