Child abuse and exploitation are the most common types of crimes against children. Thousands of innocent children face abuse on a daily basis. We all have heard of child abuse in our neighbourhood, in the form of various households and small-time businesses employing children. Several children work in restaurants and eateries, where they cook, clean and serve. Feeling just sorry about these helpless children will not do any good. It’s time we start taking some swift actions and help these children. If you come across a child in your neighbourhood who is at the receiving end of the abuse, don’t hesitate to make a complaint to authorities. Help NGOs and activists in spreading awareness about child exploitation and abuse. There are several ways you can contribute to the cause:
1. Know and understand ‘child abuse and exploitation’
Before you start taking steps to fight child labour in your neighbourhood, it’s important to understand what constitutes child abuse and exploitation. Traditional practices like early marriage is a big evil that still destroys several innocent lives every year. Sexual exploitation is also a common form of child abuse, in which children are kidnapped and trafficked across the country. Children who work as domestic helps at households and restaurants are also subjected violence as a means to ‘discipline’ them, but are rarely able to get any help.
2. Relevant bodies/authorities to approach
i. Child Welfare Committee (CWC)
According to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, it’s mandatory for the State governments to have a Child Welfare Committee in every district. The committee looks after child welfare and has the power to initiate an inquiry in case of a complaint and hold a child labour employer guilty. It also provides child abuse victims with shelter and care.
Police officers must address child abuse complaints by initiating investigations if an FIR is filed by the complainant. The police can register both telephonic and in-person complaints of such matters and take an action as per the Indian law.
You can simply dial 1098 to reach a Childline representative. Childline is India’s first 24-hour phone emergency services, which is commonly used by the victims of child abuse of those who are looking to file a complaint. Apart from rescuing children from the clutches of child labour, they also provide rehabilitation to the survivors of child abuse. The helpline gets more than 2 million calls each year.
3. Raise your voice against injustice
You can take part in social protests and be a part of social media campaigns to fight child abuse in your society or neighbourhood. It’s important to tell your friends and relatives about the social evil and ask them to raise your voice against this injustice.
4. Support an NGO
NGOs like Save the Children have been working with authorities and the government to bring stronger laws in practice. Apart from acting as the voice of India’s marginalized and exploited children, it also serves as a platform for those citizens to are willing to combat the exploitation and abuse. Thousands of individuals make regular online donations to fund the NGO’s programmes. Save the Children has been running projects across India since 2008, and has changed the lives of 6.1 million Indian children till date.
Child abuse results from lack of awareness and poor implementation of government policies. NGOs like Save the Children work with local authorities to fight child abuse and raise social awareness. Donate to charity today and help the NGO to change the lives of marginalized children, as every small gesture goes a long way.