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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act to be amended soon in India

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The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India is in a mood to propose for an amendment in the Juvenile Justice Act. Accordingly, a note has been prepared for the Union Cabinet of India to include a new section on corporal punishment as per reports. The corporal punishment has been defined as such punishments commensurate with the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for hurt and grievous hurt offences. The proposed amendment has been reported to be put up for the approval of the union cabinet shortly.

A Jail term of up to one year or fine or both has been proposed by the ministry in case a child is hurt and emotionally distressed. The offender could be imprisoned for up to three years for every subsequent offence. The ministry in the note has suggested “ a maximum imprisonment of up to seven years in case anyone is found guilty of repeatedly using any punishment in which physical force is used with the intension of causing some degree of pain or discomfort to the child.

“In case the punishment has caused the child grievous hurt or severe mental trauma, the offender could be liable for rigorous imprisonment of five years or fine. Repeated offence could invite jail term for a maximum of up to seven years or fine. The caretaker or school-teacher or staff at child home or orphanage would be dismissed fro service on second conviction” as per the note.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development conducted a “study on child abuse” in 2007. The study revealed that almost 65% of children in India suffer corporal punishment either from their parents, school- teachers, or from caretakers despite it being banned by many state governments including Delhi, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal and Gujarat.

The National Commission for the protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) reportedly carried out a survey in 2011 in seven states in India. It found that 99% of students interviewed were punished by their teachers. Hence, the commission is reported to be in a serious mood to support the initiative of the ministry to bring about a total ban and introduction of legal action against child offenders. It is suggested that the legal action should be complimented with awareness programmes for care givers like teachers, parents, and staff at Children’s Homes, ashrams, hostels etc. so as to enable them use non-violent methods of dealing with a child.

Here is a news report by IBN Live India which tells about a NCPCR Survey conducted by it during 2009-10 quoted directly from the website

New Delhi: Over 80 per cent of students in schools across the country are humiliated by teachers who tell them that they are not capable of learning, a study conducted by national child rights body has said.

Even the "cruel practice" of giving electric shocks finds a mention in the yet-to-be released study on the practice of corporal punishment brought out by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

According to the survey conducted in 2009-10 academic year, only nine out of 6,632 students in seven states who were surveyed denied that they received any kind of punishment in schools.

NCPCR defines corporal punishment as physical punishment, mental harassment and discrimination of children causing both physical and mental harassment.

The survey was conducted to study the scale and magnitude of corporal punishment in the everyday school experiences of India's children, types of violent punishment prevailing in Indian schools and analyse by age the prevalence of different types of punishments among school children.

"99.86 per cent of children reported experiencing one or the other kind of punishment. As many as 81.2 per cent of children were subject to outward rejection by being told that they are not capable of learning," it said.

Getting beaten by a cane, being slapped on the cheeks, being hit on the back and ears and getting boxed are the other four major punishments, it said.

"These four punishments do not lag behind much in terms of their occurrence. Out of the total, 75 per cent reported that they had been hit by a cane and 69 per cent had been slapped on their cheeks," the survey said.

A senior NCPCR official said they will be coming up with 'Guidelines for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools' on Monday.

The guidelines include measures for affirmative action in schools towards positive development and positive engagement with children.

It will also discuss creating an environment conducive to learning and for mechanisms and processes to give children a voice and engage in the process of creating a positive environment as well as for accountability and multi-sectoral responsibility.

Key Words: offense, child abuse, Juvenile Justice, NCPCR

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