India is still counted amongst the developing countries, and not the developed ones. Of course, there are multiple factors that lead to the challenges that India, as a county with high population, is not able to combat. India, as well known, is home to the largest child population in the world, with almost 41 % of the total population under 18 years of age. The health and security of the country’s children is integral to any vision for its progress and development. If the children are not loved and paid attention to, a lot of psychological problems might occur. Doctors and healthcare professionals play a key role in detecting child’s weak health and provide immediate and long- term care and support to children. Despite being their speciality, often physicians have a limited understanding on how to protect these vulnerable groups. There is an urgent need for systematic training for physicians and law makers to prevent, detect and respond to cases of child abuse and neglect. The need of the present hour is to ensure a prompt and comprehensive multidisciplinary response to victims of child abuse and neglect. We all should be aware of the new legislation, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which requires mandatory reporting of cases of child sexual abuse by medical practitioners, failing which they can be penalized. But probably, that is only a very limited sort of solution and it is important for the children, especially from the rural backdrop, to understand the ways this social evil spreads its tentacles, and the ways in which it can be further countered and acted upon.
There are principally four kinds of Child Abuse
Physical abuse – It is the intentional use of physical force that can result in physical injury. Examples include hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.
Sexual abuse-This involves pressuring or forcing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes behaviours such as fondling, penetration, and exposing a child to other sexual activities.
Emotional Abuse- Emotional abuse refers to behaviour that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name-calling, shaming, rejecting, withholding love, and threatening.
Neglect-It is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, access to medical care, and having feelings validated and appropriately responded to.
Primary problems associated with Child Abuse
Children in rural India experience great deprivations such as lack of access to basic education, nutrition or health care. In addition, they are susceptible to different forms of adverse childhood experiences that may include, but is certainly not limited to, various forms of abuse, neglect, and maltreatment with child protection remaining largely unaddressed. A large-scale national study conducted by Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), to assess the extent and nature of child abuse in India, reflected some shocking statistics. Sadly enough, these cases are noted more in rural India where appropriate agencies to combat such issues do not exist, and even if they do, people are unaware about the ways to reach out to seek help. It is extremely important for all the rural people to be well educated about the ways in which these forms of abuses could be a part of their children’s lives. People need to be told that everyone deserves a safe, secure and a happy childhood and if children are going through any emotional, physical, sexual or financial distress, the community should join the hands together to ensure that these problems could be eradicated.
As a conclusion, it can be stated that Child Abuse is a dark reality that is highly prevalent in India. There is definitely a great need for more research concerning the perpetrators of child sexual abuse, including gathering more knowledge about such similar issues in India, in order to enhance primary preventive strategies. Geetanjali Care, a non-profit organisation has joined hands with many agencies and help boards and is trying to provide its assistance to rural children by educating them through seminars and workshops. Essential supplies are also provided to the children so that they are able to live a happy and joyful life. A happy childhood leads to a healthy life and collectively, we all have to do our bit to ensure that rural children in India can have a beautiful and wholesome life.