Child abuse in India: How it is putting our nation in a financial deficit?
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Child abuse in India: How it is putting our nation in a financial deficit?

child abuse in india

child abuse in indiaChild abuse is a graving issue prevailing in our country, yet never openly spoken about. The innocent, nurturing childhood of the abused, is turned into a cold shrug of hundred fleeting moments. Looking for comfort, a child sees nothing but indifference from the law, and people, who try to suppress the issue as nothing happened. Dissing child’s pain in the name of family honor is the bitter truth of child abuse in India.

But for those who still don’t get triggered by the damage child abuse brings, it also is affecting us economically, putting the nation in great deficit. Although, the cost is difficult to calculate, but is undoubtedly in an exorbitant amount.

As estimated by the government, 40% of India’s children are susceptible to threats like being homeless, trafficking, drug abuse, forced labor, and crime in India. Also, the jolting estimates state that every second child is being exposed to one or the other form of sexual abuse, and every fifth child faces critical forms of it.

When talking about India, it is the home to almost 19 percent of the world’s children. More than one-third of the country’s population (roughly around 440 million) is below 18 years. According to a study, 40 percent of these children are in need of protection, which clearly specifies the magnitude of the problem.

What is child abuse?

Most people think about child abuse as limited to physical assaults. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. A terrible epidemic, it includes various forms of neglect, and maltreatment of children by the hands of an adult, caregiver or a parent. An estimated 7.9% of males and 19.7% of females universally faced sexual abuse before the age of 18 years. Numbers for other unspoken and implicit forms of abuse are even higher. Some of the types are as follows:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect – physical, medical, educational
  • Sexual, and Physical abuse
  • Child labor

The UNICEF defines violence against children as “physical and mental abuse and injury, neglect or negligent treatment, exploitation and sexual abuse.” Also explaining how it can take place anywhere in “homes, schools, orphanages, residential care facilities, on the streets, in the workplace, in prisons and in places of detention.” Violence is just one element of child abuse. Abuse can harm a child’s health, survival, dignity, and development, according to the WHO.

Does child abuse make a person economically incompetent?

There are certain experiences that cause difficulties in childhood and beyond.  These can either be the absence of certain needs or presence of upsetting events. As much as it causes physiological, behavioral, physical repercussions, it can also make a person economically incompetent.  Affecting an individual’s mental health, child abuse can lead to:

  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Lost work productivity, adult underemployment, and low income
  • Adult criminality – According to a particular set of data, adults who had been abused or neglected were 38% more likely to have been arrested for a violent crime.
  • Low socioeconomic status

If an individual proves to be incompetent, not contributing to the national GDP, chances are that the reason is deep-rooted in his past. The traumatic experience of child abuse can be a cause diminishing productivity.

Child abuse- How much does a nation pay?

According to the source, the global costs of child labor is somewhere around 2-5 percent toChild abuse in India as high as 3-8 percent in global GDP. There have been definite attempts to calculate the damage child abuse lays on an economy. The emotional, and physical trauma, however, cannot be quantified, but certain consequence can be represented in figures.

From (2001), the report stated that the total direct, and indirect cost of child abuse and neglect was about $94 billion.

  • Direct costs: Hospital costs for medical treatment, foster care costs for those victimized by family, chronic health problems, mental health costs
  • The cost incurred by the government: Child welfare cost, law enforcement cost, expenses of the judicial system
  • Indirect costs: Special education, mental health, and physical care.

 Churning funds every year in the name of child abuse:

Child abuse in India is a staggering reality. Given the importance it requires, is our law full-throttle in safeguarding its children which are said to be “special asset” to the country? Or just making them more helpless in the hands of the law? According to a study on child budget, by Ministry of Women and Child Development, total expenditure on children in the areas of health, education, development, and protection combined accounted to as little as 3.86%, (2005-2006) rising to 4.91% (2006-07). The funds allocated to child protection was even lower than a whole number, resting at 0.034% in 2005-06 and remained the same in 2006-07. Available resources have been under-utilized in matters pertaining to child protection and safety. As a result, child protection in India is a far-cry.

Although there is a scarcity of data on nature, and magnitude of child abuse in India. But here are some facts acquainting you with our harsh reality:-

  • The world’s highest number of working children is in India
  • India has the world’s largest number of sexually abused children
  • 16 years raped every 155th minute, a child below 10 year- every 13th hour, and one in every 10 children sexually abused at different points of time
  • Most of the sexual abuse goes unreported. Children are not given the protective, and therapeutic assistance they need, leaving them alone to suffer in silence

How can Indian law be more cost-effective in preventing child abuse?

child abuse in indiaThe issue of child abuse in India should be at the forefront of our national agenda. By uniting the efforts of the government, civil society, communities in the protection of the children of our nation, the issue can gain the momentum it deserves.

The pervasive malady can be curbed without exhausting large government’s resources, through the following measures:

  • Criteria to be set up, called ‘child check’, just like how adults are treated with certain conditions of addiction, etc.
  • Rescuing children from banned occupations, and streamlining them into appropriate education streams.
  • The inclusion of knowledge on child protection measures, and life-skills within the school curriculum
  • Altering the social norms that hide violence is an effective way of ending it
  • Enforcing laws that protect children from abuse, to send a message across people that violence in any form is a serious offense

It is high time that both the government and citizens start acting towards child abuse instead of shunning it. Children should not be victimized rather empowered, as they are the future of our nation.

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