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Child sexual abuse is a brutal form of terrorism that almost every second #Indian child is exposed to, but unfortunately, it remains shrouded in secrecy. Alarming statistics were revealed in the Government’s first ever survey on the issue in 2007 where 72% of the victims said they didn’t report the matter to anyone & only 3% reported it to their families or the police. Read & share this post to spread awareness & to fight against Child Sexual Abuse.
It not just our moral - but under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, a legal duty to report such cases. Under #POCSOAct any person who knows of an instance of child sexual abuse must report it to the police, & can face punitive action - of up to six months imprisonment or a fine for not doing so.
The responsibility falls on anyone a child may have confided in or knows that a child may have been sexually abused – whether a social worker, a teacher, a family friend, or a neighbour. I am aware that each one of us may have concerns when deciding whether to report child abuse. I hope this post will help dispel some of these concerns. Let us remember that children need the assistance of trusted adults to protect them from sexual abuse. Not reporting these incidents is a grave crime that amounts to aiding paedophiles.
1) The person responsible could be a relative or a well-known person in the community:
If the person is related to you, it may put you in a difficult position. It is very important that you talk to someone you can trust or someone outside of the family.
2) You might feel that the problem could best be dealt with inside the family network or by the community:
Sometimes the community’s response is to move the person responsible away from where they live. The problem will not go away as they may go to another community and continue to harm children.
3) You do not want to make the situation worse for the family:
It may seem that reporting your concerns will make things worse for the family, organisation, community or the child. However, in the long run, you could make the situation a whole lot better for a child who may not have anyone else to protect them, or may be too scared and ashamed to report any harm.
4) You might be worried about a child, but not convinced that they are being harmed:
It is not necessary for you to prove that the child has been harmed. The police and Government agencies are responsible for investigating and assessing the risk of harm to the child.
5) You might know the person who is responsible for the harm and it may cause trouble and tension within and between the families:
This places you in a difficult situation, but think about what is more important — protecting a child or protecting the person responsible? It is sad that reporting child abuse sometimes causes families to fight and result in a rift that may never be mended. However, you will have to take a stand to protect a child.
6) You simply may not want to get involved or you may think it is none of your business:
Protecting children from harm is everybody’s business. Children are vulnerable and it is the responsibility of adults - government and communities to work together to nurture and protect them.
7) You may feel that you do not know enough about the reporting or investigation process or the options available:
Under POCSO Act, if you have any knowledge of an offence being committed/apprehensions it will be committed, you must report it to
a) A Special Juvenile Police Unit or
b) The Local Police. A report of sexual abuse should be in writing and duly signed. It should contain information like name, age, address and telephone number of the child. The nature and extent of the child’s abuse. The identity of the person or persons responsible for the abuse or neglect to the child also needs to be mentioned in the written report.
Let us remember that child safety is the responsibility of adults. Let us pledge to ProtectOurChildren by promising to report these crimes.