Crime Against Children
I have been talking about crime and violence against women in my previous posts. This time I am going to deviate slightly from that angle and going to speak about another equally important topic, namely, a crime against children. Just like women, children are extremely vulnerable to different types of crimes and abusive behavior from sociopaths who often take advantage of their innocence and immaturity.
Some forms of child abuse and violence could be different than those committed against women; however, the intensity and impact can be as severe. Some of these crimes can destroy the life of a budding soul before it even had the chance to experience and explore what this beautiful gift of life really is.
Particularly in India, the incidences of criminal behavior against children have seen a steep rise in the past decade or so. Although it is partially due to the fact that people are coming forward to report such cases, the fact remains that many states in the country are not safe for children. What makes criminal minds go to the extent of exploiting even children? Let’s shed some light on this sensitive subject and understand how it can be curbed by taking some social and legal measures.
Understanding crime against children
Children are often referred to as the beautiful and fragrant flowers on the altar of God. This is mainly due to their delightful nature and pure heart. They have a fairly open and flexible mind and an innocent heart that trusts easily. However, this very innocence and trusting nature can often put children at the risk of getting manipulated and even abused sexually.
Children are extremely curious by nature. They don’t have enough experience of life to differentiate between what is good for them and what isn’t. They haven’t yet developed the discriminating faculty of their mind to know what is safe and what is dangerous. They can be easily lured to do things by offering some tempting reward or can be forced to obey commands or keep their mouths shut about the incidence by threatening them. Being physically weak and fragile also adds to their gullibility to physical assaults and sexual aggression.
Different types of crimes against children
Following are some main types of crimes against children:
- Kidnapping and abduction.
- Crimes under the POCSO Act including rape, sexual assault against children, sexual harassment and child pornography.
- Sexual assault, violence, and rape.
- Assault or insult to the modesty of a female child.
- Procuration of minor girls.
Current situation of child abuse and violence in India
Just as the crime against women, India is not far behind when it comes to abuse and violence against minors. It hurts me the most when I see the statistics of the crimes committed against small children in India. What a pity – and a great irony – that a country that boasts of such a rich cultural and religious heritage has become one of the most unsafe places on the planet for its women and children. However, it is a fact and we have to deal with these menacing problems squarely and intelligently. So let’s take a brief look at some eye-opening statistics.
When it comes to the most unsafe states for children in India, more than 50% crimes against children have been recorded in just five states namely, Utter Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, and West Bengal. Utter Pradesh tops the list with 15% recorded crimes. Maharashtra and M. P. are close behind with 14% and 13% cases respectively.
The past decade has seen a drastic rise of above 500% in the level of the crimes against children in our country – from 18,967 in 2006 to 1,06,958 in 2016.
Kidnapping and abduction is the most common crime which constitutes almost 50% of all crimes against minors. Rape comes second with 18%.
Some horrifying recent incidences that scarred the Society
Following are some recent incidences of violence against minors in India. These disturbing acts of cruelty are enough to shatter one’s belief in humanity. Utterly shocking and sickening, these examples are scorching evidence of the absolutely appalling status of child safety in our country.
These are just a few examples of the hundreds of such cases revealed in different parts of our country every day. Kids are kidnapped for ransom – many are maimed and forced to beg on the streets of big cities. Minor girls are raped and killed. Acid attacks on teenage girls for refusing sexual favors or one-sided love are fairly common.
- A 20 something man was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir for the rape of a minor. This incidence took place just days after an incidence of a 3-year old girl’s rape in the Bandipore District, mere 50 km away.
- In Uttarakhand, a security guard lured a 6-year old girl who was playing with her friends in a slum near Haridwar. He took her to a deserted forest region and tried to assault her. When she screamed, he strangled her to death and then assaulted her dead body.
- In the Berhampur district of Odisha, a 30-year-old man stoned a 7-year-old boy to death as he felt that the child was a hurdle to his one-sided love to his mother.
- Teach young children about basic safety precautions. All kids step out on their own at some point, whether it’s to walk to the bus stop or run to a friend’s house. Part of our parental responsibility is teaching kids how to stay safe when we’re not around.
- Listen up. Let your kids know that they can always talk to you without shame or embarrassment. Take their concerns and complaints seriously.
- Keep alert to warning behaviors that could indicate abuse. These may include increased anxiety, sudden hostility, and secretiveness, and can extend to physical symptoms such as bedwetting, nightmares, or pain.
- Teach your child the power of “no.” No one has a right to touch them if it makes them uncomfortable, and you will never, ever get angry if they tell you that someone has touched them, despite what that person might threaten.
How can we curb and prevent crime against children?
Perhaps, growing awareness and increased willingness to file a complaint against the crime is a major factor behind this apparent increase. The law enforcement agencies are also showing more willingness to report the crime. However, the awareness level is still way behind developed countries. A lot more work is needed on the part of the government, social activists and common people to raise the bar.
The government needs to invest more in building a proper prevention mechanism to curb these crimes and provide more protection to the children. Having legislation and legal guidelines are important. However, in a vast country like India, they are not enough on their own. It is important that people are more aware of which acts are eligible to be termed as crimes when it comes to minors. More education about child abuse and violence and also about the preventive measures and legal provisions is essential.
People should be encouraged to have zero tolerance for any type of crime against children. We as fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters of minors should be watchful and wary about the fact that children can be extremely gullible and easy targets for these criminals.
Government, law enforcement agencies, legal systems and common people like you and I should work together hand-in-hand to eliminate such offensive tendencies from the society. After all, children are the future of our country and when such monstrous acts are committed by certain inhuman psychopaths on them, our future as a nation is at risk. It’s high time that we raise voice against these crimes.
Let’s put the safety of our children first – whether it is at home, at school, on the street or while traveling. If our children are safe and secure, the future of our country will be brighter.