June 27, 2011

Kids are no longer safe

Express News Service , The New Indian Express
Posted on Jun 25, 2011 at 12:26pm IST

KOCHI: Incidents of sexual abuse have been hitting headlines for years now. But some of the incidents that have cropped up recently seem to be a little too disturbing. For, it is no longer the woman but the child who is the target and that too with the active participation of the parent.

Is this a new phenomenon in our society or is it just a continuation of our history?
“We cannot say this is completely new. There is no data to say that. But now such incidents are coming out in the open. It must be said that on an average the number of parents committing sexual abuse is just two percent. But the fact that it is happening cannot be ignored,” says M K G Nair, director of Child Development Centre, Trivandrum Medical College.

Cities seem to be on the forefront as far as such incidents are concerned.
Experts say this might be due to under reporting in villages while others feel these can be some of the side-effects of modernity seen in cities. “In rural areas, people are more connected. In my experience I have seen that when such incidents take place, the neighbours get to know and the local people intervene. But in cities this network is limited,” says M P Antony, project officer, Rajagiri Outreach.
At a time when children are increasingly becoming the focus of a parent’s life, such incidents have a tendency to shock society. “These were problems generally associated with the western society.

But in the west there are also several mechanisms to counter the issue. But we have ended up in a situation where we have all the problems but no solutions. A child here is extremely vulnerable because there are hardly any avenues for him/her to voice their problems,” said Sachidananda Kamath, president, Indian Medical Association, Kochi.

Counselling centres in schools which experts believe can put some check on the incidents.

Sex education of children from a young age could reduce their vulnerability to such abuse. “It has been scientifically proven that children who are given adequate sex education are five times less vulnerable to sexual abuse. “As part of the Integrated Child Development Programme (ICDS) the government has started a programme which makes counselling in schools compulsory. But the programme is yet to take off. “We are launching a state-wide scheme on similar lines under the CM’s 100-day programme.
It will include 10 lakh children from 300 Anganwadis. It might not be a revolution but it is at least a step forward,” said Nair.

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