COVID-19 left children more vulnerable, NCRB data proved it: Child rights NGOs

08:20 PM Aug 30, 2022 | Team Udayavani |

The Covid pandemic has left children far more exposed and vulnerable when it came to issues related to child protection and this has been proved by recent NCRB data which reported a 16.2 per cent rise in crimes against them in 2021 in comparison to previous year, according to child rights groups.


An analysis by child rights NGO CRY – Child Rights and You – on the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, show 1,49,404 cases of crimes against children were recorded last year, which meant that every hour 17 crimes have been committed against children – translating to a whopping 409 incidents of crimes being committed every day against children in the country.

“There is a worrying rise in number of crimes against children when compared to last year – while NCRB data revealed that 1,28,531 cases of crimes that had been recorded in 2020 , total number of crimes stood at 1,49,404 in 2021 – indicating a remarkable 16.2 per cent increase in crimes reported against children,” it said.

A close look at the decadal scenario points to an alarming upward trend where crimes against children increased sharply by 351 per cent between 2011 and 2021, the NCRB said.

Further analysis of the NCRB 2021 data suggests that sexual offences against children, especially girls, are steadily on the rise, as one out of every three crimes against children are registered under the POCSO Act (53,874 out of 1,49,404 – i.e. 36.1 per cent of total crimes against children).


More importantly, sexual crimes against children shows very strong gender tilt as adolescent girls within 12 to 16 years are reported to be the victims in more than 99 per cent of the cases registered under the POCSO Act.

Commenting on the trends, Puja Marwaha, CEO of CRY, said, “While it’s heartening to see that there is increased public awareness which possibly translates into higher reporting of cases, it should also be kept in mind that in our country many cases often go unrecorded, especially in the remote areas – hence the actual scale of crimes committed against children may be higher than the numbers apparently reflect.” “The fear was that in all likelihood the COVID pandemic may have left children far more exposed and vulnerable when it came to issues related to child protection and may have increased risks for children manifold at multiple levels; and the current NCRB data has proved it right,” Marwaha said.

On the way forward, Marwaha said it is time, more than ever, that urgent measures are needed to strengthen India’s child protection systems and ensure that efforts during humanitarian crises are swift, well-planned and responsive to children’s and families’ priorities.

“Such a system would enable following of due processes within stipulated timelines and adequately utilise the strengths of a dedicated cadre of child protection officials. But to ensure all these, it needs to have more resources – at both systemic and financial levels, and is not attainable without adequate budget allocations for child protection and safety,” she said.

Sudarshan Suchi, CEO of Save the Children, said as the country aspires for being a developed country by 2047, there is a need to quickly move to have an operational plans to make children protected safe in every way so that the future active citizens can partake from fruits of development.

“An immediate awakener for us is the latest report that crime rate per lakh children has increased from 28.9 to 33.6 per cent. This steady increase in the crimes against children is a wakeup call though it could also be because of raised awareness that the government and civil society organisations have worked on,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for consolidating and strengthening the functioning of the child protection mechanism and collective efforts in containing the increasing incidences of violence against children on a war footing to arrest and reverse the trend. As we improve our response mechanism, it is equally important to focus on the root causes that are contributing to the increasing crimes against women and children,” Suchi added.

Strengthening the families, reducing the vulnerabilities at the family and community level is essential as the lack it which pushes children into situation of violence and abuse, he said.
He also called for enhanced allocation on the preventive and non-institutional alternative care provisions under Mission Vatsalya (formerly ICPS) – sponsorship foster care would go a long way in converting our intent to action and delivery.

“Mission Vatsalya, through its new guidelines aims to strengthen child protection at family and community level, equip families and communities to identify risks and vulnerabilities affecting children, create and promote preventive measures to protect children from situations of vulnerability, risk and abuse,” he added.


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