Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Second Annual Tulir - CPHCSA Lecture - “Addressing Violence Against Children In Institutional Settings:

Clockwise from top left - Dr Shantha Sinha, Tulir representative explaining the background of the topic for the lecture , Ms Geeta Ramaseshan, Trustee Tulir welcoming the audience and a view of a section of the audience

Background Note
Considering approximately 420 million of India’s population are children below 18 years it can be but expected that more than a sizable number spend a significant time in institutional settings - schools, hostels, children’s homes - both Govt and privately managed , and other similar facilities which cater exclusively to children.

It is unfortunate however that often the very people and structures entrusted with the care and well being of children – wardens, administrators, teachers, are the violators of this trust reposed in them. Either by physical violence, sexual abuse or various forms of emotional abuse .

The fact is that violence against children besides being pervasive and endemic is ignored and trivialized, if not condoned as in the case of corporal punishment even if it is not as practiced as much in institutions as it practiced in family settings.

The sadder reality is that more often not these obvious crimes against children, in institutional settings are hidden. and concealed, with traumatized child victims revictimized through threats and blame and the adults responsible for the violence shielded, pardoned, and emboldened to continue.

An institution’s integrity and worth is not based on whether cases of violence and abuse exist. Instead an institution’s integrity is based on the acceptance of the possibilities of violence being inflicted on children in its care and proactive steps taken to respond in a timely and appropriate way to ensure that its children may benefit from its caring and foresight to truly have the right to be safe all the time.

An important step towards achieving this objective would be for every institution which works with children to develop and adhere to a child protection policy which would have clear cut guidelines and protocols which would provide for a safe and conducive environment for both children and their adult caregivers.

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