As part of the Academic Programme series, a seminar on – “Children in vulnerable situations” was organized by the Department of Social Work,Amrita Vishwa Vidhyapeetham on 15/02/2013. Ms. Venna Suresh (Faculty,Department of social work) was the chairperson with Mr. Bibin as the discussant and Ms. Supriya K Rajappan as the presenter of the topic.
Note of the Chairperson
Ms Veena Suresh gave an introduction about the topic and also about children.
The legal and medical definition of child,the children in vulnerable situations and the different vulnerable groups of children were presented by Ms Supriya.She explained that children are considered vulnerable as their intellectual and emotional capacities are limited and therefore they are legally incompetent to give valid informed consent.The different vulnerable groups of children are:
- Street Children
- Trafficked Children
- Abused Children
- Children engaged in substance abuse
- Children affected by conflict and disaster
- HIV/AIDS affected or infected Children
- Juveniles in conflict with Law
- Child labourers/ working child
- Differently abled Children
She explained about the various vulnerable groups with statistics.About 44,476 children are reported missing in India and 3 to 5 lakh children are engaged in commercial sex and organized prostitution (2005). The purposes for child trafficking include sexual exploitation, Illegal activities, entertainment and sports, labour, adoption, marriage etc. According to ILO a case of child abuse is reported in every 10 second. The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the united states for 2008 is $ 124 billion. 13.1% of the people are involved in drug and substance abuse in India. Most HIV infections in children are passed from mother to child during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or breastfeeding.
Other causes of HIV in children include:
• Blood transfusions
• Illicit drug use
• Sexual transmission
Worldwide, an estimated 132 million children ranging from newborns to age 17 have lost one or both parents (UNICEF).Every 2.2 seconds a child loses a parent somewhere in the world. Every day 5,760 more children in the world become orphans.
Child labour refers to work that:
• is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children; and
• interferes with their schooling by:
• depriving them of the opportunity to attend school;
• obliging them to leave school prematurely; or
• requiring them to attempt to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.
India has the largest number of child labourer’s in the world (Census 2001 – 1.26 crore children between 5 to 14 years of age are involved in Child Labour).This is a violation to the child’s right to education and development resulting in exposure to harm, risks etc.
Worldwide 60 percent of all child labourers in the age group 5 to 17 years work in agriculture, including farming, fishing, aquaculture, forestry, and livestock. This amounts to over 129 million girls and boys.
Differently Abled is often described in terms of lack of normal functioning of physical, mental or psychological processes.3% of India’s children are differently abled.20 out of every 1000 rural children and 16 out of every 1000 urban children are differently abled.
Children in conflict with law, problems faced by vulnerable children, needs of children and securing protective environment was presented by by Mr. Bibin. He explained that the term ‘children in conflict with law’ refers to anyone under 18 years who comes into contact with the justice system as a result of being suspected or accused of committing an offence. Most children in conflict with the law have committed petty crimes or such minor offences as vagrancy, truancy, begging or alcohol use(Child Protection Information sheet.He pointed out the problems faced by vulnerable children such as lack of food; shelter and clothing; deprivation of love, care and attention from family; lack of educational facilities; harassment by local people;police and older children ; all forms of abuse, forced labour with no wages/ less wages/late payment etc .The needs of the children were also discussed which included
• Care and protection – stay in a place free from all kinds of abuse and basic needs provided for.
• Responsibility of the State to ensure that they are protected
An open discussion and clarification regarding the presentation was held after that. The panel clarified that the presentation mainly focused on the vulnerability of child. They explained about the ILO and IFRC.They also explained the new act against child abuse and objectives of the JJ Act. They also clarified about the socio cultural influence in child exploitation with the illustration of “Devadasi “
Critical comments shared during the session were
- Add sex education in the school curriculum as it may reduce the exploitation against them and the false believes( Winnie Elizebeth Johnson,S2MSW)
- About 30% of the abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse.The relevance of it in the Indian scenario(Joby T Lal,S2MSW)
- Mr. Nishanth mentioned about the Muslim Marriage Act and the age of marriage
- Mr. Kochu Krishna Kurup mentioned about the relevance of physical and mental growth in terms of age and also explained about IPC and acts like JJACT, etc..
- Mr. Rajeev M M mentioned about the vulnerability of children and case work intervention with field work experiences.
- MrRenjith Kavumkara mentioned that the concept of age in different acts are different
- Dr. Renjith R PIllai mentioned the 27-28 vulnerable situation of children
The seminar was concluded by Ms.Veena Suresh.
Reported: Athira Dattan