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Child Protection is about saving childrens’ lives and creating support structures that give young people the chance to grow, learn and thrive
India is strengthening its laws to protect children from harm, but challenges around their implementation mean that exploitation, violence and abuse is a harsh reality for millions.
Getting hold of data to understand the scale of the issue isn’t straightforward, yet crimes against children that once went unreported are now seeing the light of day. But, a lot more work needs to be done. Early marriage, child labour, child trafficking and child abuse (including online) impacts both girls and boys, and has life-long consequences.
The causes of child exploitation and violence towards children are complex – poverty, a lack of employment opportunities, social norms and practices, migration and emergencies are often the root cause of child exploitation.
CINIs human rights-based approach focuses on prevention. We are on-the-ground in communities raising awareness of child protection and creating safe spaces where children can share with professionals. We’re providing counselling and support services to victims, and for those who are most at risk managing children’s homes to help them recover.
CINI is also collaborating with public authorities to create systemic change. We’re raising awareness of child protection issues amongst stakeholders, putting in place support structures and systems, and training staff on how to help a child in need.
But probably the most powerful weapon against child exploitation and abuse is education. CINI’s network of community learning centres are encouraging and enabling children to stay in school, and we’re working with parents to push education up their list of priorities.
What we’ve been doing to make a difference
children were rescued, prevented and responded to with child protection support services
children called CINIs 24/7 CHILDLINE service and were listened to, counselled and given guidance
stakeholders were trained by CINIs child protection specialists on how to help a child in need
CINI’s child protection work includes preventing children being trafficked, supporting girls being forced into early marriage and searching out rescuing victims of violence and abuse
In our last reporting period CINI identified 141,078 incidents of at-risk and victimised children and acted to prevent these children coming to further harm.
CINIs child protection activities, alongside public authorities and the police, ranged from identifying, preventing and responding to cases of early and forced marriage, protecting children from trafficking gangs and disrupting the work of traffickers, searching out and stopping child labour, preventing illegal adoption, and rescuing and supporting victims of child sexual abuse.
We provided training to police and public authorities on how to spot the warning signs of a child in danger, and how they should respond to child victims who have had the courage to come forward and ask for help.
CINIs children’s homes in Kolkata provided victims with a safe refuge to start their recovery, and we were able to remove almost 400 lost children from institutional care by re-connecting them family members who thought they had lost their son or daughter forever.
CINI’s Child Friendly Railway Stations have been such a success we’re rolling them out wider
Thousands of children turn up at railway stations every day. Lost, bewildered and not knowing where to turn, they’re easy prey for child trafficking gangs that patrol the platforms.
At Kolkata’s Sealdah railway it’s a different story. Here CINI has created a Child Friendly Railway station. There are teams on the ground looking out for children and educating those that work at the station what they can do to help a vulnerable child. Our model at Sealdah has been so successful that the Eastern Divisional Railway Authority asked us to share our experiences with its staff.
CINIs mantra of prevention means we never just focused on the platforms at Sealdah, but the reasons why children ended up there in the first place. Analysis found that children arrived in Kolkata for a variety of reasons from local hotspots, and we dispatched teams to engage officials, parents and children in these stations and towns to work on prevention.
Today at twelve neighbouring stations CINIs teams have trained railway officials to help them embed child friendly practices within the railway’s standard operating procedures.
In West Bengal two in five women (41.6%) aged 20 – 24 were married before their 18th birthday. This number rises to almost half (48.1%) for girls who are living in the rural areas of the state.
Our child parliaments continued to make sure that the voices of children are heard
CINI continued to develop and strengthen its network of child parliaments with 1282 children’s ministers active in 83 parliaments. Our child parliamentarians in cities, towns, village and tea plantations are raising their voices and giving children a platform to share their views.
Ministers represent children on topics as wide ranging as education, health, the environment, employment, gender and child rights. CINIs child parliamentarians have visited public offices and police stations to talk to the authorities and raise awareness of child rights, participated in corporate away days to discuss their concerns with business leaders and have spoken at international public forums like the United Nations.
CINI CHILDLINE advice and counselling services were available to support children in crises
CINIs CHILDLINE telephone counselling services provided a lifeline for around 3,500 children in crises who reached out for support from our professional call handlers and counsellors.
Our experience of phone-based counselling and insight into the issues that children call about and why, led to the publication of report on what an effective child protection phone system looks like in practice.
Around 1 in 10 (8%) of young women in Assam aged 18-29 years had experienced sexual violence by the age of 18