Bhopal: ‘Protecting kids from physical, emotional, sexual violence biggest challenge’

Families have key role to play; moral education, social media literacy important; Communicators discuss children’s issues at UNICEF-IIMC seminar

Staff ReporterUpdated: Friday, August 12, 2022, 06:34 PM IST
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Child Protection Officer, UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh, Advaita Marathe addressing a seminar at Palash Residency in the city on Friday. | FPJ

Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Protecting the children from violence - physical, emotional and sexual - is the biggest challenge of today. Though there are a series of laws and many policies for the protection of and wellbeing of the children, their implementation is lax. Media needs to be sensitised to the issues related to the protection of children and child rights should be made part of the syllabus of journalism schools. Moral education and social media literacy are also important.

This was the gist of the proceedings of a day-long seminar on “Communicators’ Dialogue on Children’s Issues” organised jointly by the Amravati Regional Centre of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) and UNICEF at Palash Residency in the city on Friday.

The seminar was addressed, among others, by director general, IIMC, New Delhi, Prof Sanjay Dwivedi, vice-chancellor, Sanchi University of Buddhist-Indic Studies, Neerja A Gupta, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh, Advaita Marathe, Editor, Amar Ujala Digital, New Delhi, Jaideep Karnik and Brahmakumari Reena.

Advaita said that Madhya Pradesh was one of the worst states in the country in terms of violence against and sexual exploitation of children. Quoting the latest NCRB data, she said that state was number one in the country in rapes of minors, number two in murder-rapes of minors and number three in crimes under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act. The number of missing children in the state is 13-14% of the national figure. Around 23% of girls in the state are married before their 18th birthday and the rate of teenage pregnancy is about 5%, says the NFHS-5.

“Though we tend to define violence only in physical terms, violence can take other forms, too. Neglecting the emotional needs of the children and non-fulfilment of their basic needs are also violence.” she said.

Advaita said that Madhya Pradesh was the first state in the country to have a Child Protection Policy. “Policies and programmes are okay but implementation is important,” she said.

Sanjay Dwivedi said that there was a need for inculcating moral values in children. “This is something which only the family can do,” he said. Dwivedi laid stress on promoting ‘social media literacy’. He said that the New Education Policy, with its emphasis on moral education, capacity building and skill development, would do good to the younger generation. He said that we need to strengthen interpersonal relationships so that India does not become home to an increasingly growing number of old age homes and orphanages.

Neerja Gupta said that no one is taking the children seriously. The family thinks that inculcating values in children is the job of the school. The school thinks the family is responsible for doing it and the government thinks children are learning from their teachers and family.

Brahmakumari Reena said that values like love, compassion and non-violence should be inculcated in children and yoga, meditation and spiritual education is the best way to do it.

Karnik said that the Covid-induced lockdown was more painful for children than for anyone else. They suffered a lot. They were forced to spend most of their time with digital devices, either for studies or for entertainment. He said that families should try to understand their children, what they are going through, what they are feeling. “If you feel they need some help, contact a psychiatrist,” he said.

Prof Anil Soumitra, convener of the event, proposed a vote of thanks.

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