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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Survey finds child abuse rampant in State

G. Anand

Social Welfare Department launches major campaign

Thiruvananthapuram: Initial results of a State-wide survey conducted among one lakh students between the age of 14 and 18 has prompted the Social Welfare Department (SWD) to launch a major campaign against child abuse in Kerala from December 10.

The survey conducted in November has revealed that a large number of the students were victims of emotional and physical abuse.

At least 24 per cent of the students, who answered the survey for gauging the extent and nature of child abuse in Kerala, said `yes' to the question "whether they often felt fed up with life."

The department views the answer as an early exhibition of suicidal tendency.

Nearly 22 per cent of the respondents said they had been ridiculed in the name of caste, family status or physical disability.

Many children (24 %) revealed that they had endured instances of "uneasiness" when persons touched them without reason, an answer which was described as indicative of the prevalence of sexual abuse of children.

Nearly 9.5 per cent of the children said they had to work outside home for "wages or food." Many children (40 %) reported harsh punishment at home, including inflicting of minor burns and being tied up.

A majority of the respondents (68 %) said they faced "punishment and blame from parents and teachers" for not scoring marks to their expectations.

A bigger majority (71 %) said they "constantly endured reprimand" at home. Nearly 30 % of the children felt "neglected."

Several children (7 %), including girls (1%), said they had been "prompted" to use beedi, alcohol, panmasala and cigarettes. The SWD categorised 4.7 % of the respondents as victims of family conflict and 10.8 % as victims of abuse by relatives.

Massive exercise

K.K. Mani, joint director, SWD, said 1,000 supervisors working for the Integrated Child Development Service Scheme (ICDSS) carried out the survey. The survey spanned 163 development blocks in the State. Each block consists of not less than six grama panchayats.

The campaign includes the proposal for a new law for prevention of child abuse and training programmes for Anganwadi workers, teachers, parents, medical and para-medical staff, judicial officers and policemen.

The SWD has approached the Home Department for revitalising the functioning of district level Juvenile Police Units.

Kerala reports the highest number of crimes against children in India after Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

In 2004, 51 children were murdered, 159 minors raped, 74 kidnapped or abducted in the State.

Twenty cases of procurement of minor girls and one case of child marriage were registered last year.

This year, 22 children were involved in serious crimes in Kerala, including murder, rape and violation of drug laws, according to police department figures. The population of children below the age of 18 in Kerala is estimated to be at more than 1.27 crores.

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