Draft Child Protection Policy
The Ministry of Women and Child Development has placed the draft Child Protection Policy on its website and invited comments from stakeholders. Child protection was a grey area in policy making and it was only a part of the broader National Child Policy, 2013. This would be a first ever policy attempt in the arena of child protection.
Components of the draft Policy
- The policy will be applicable to all institutions, and organisations (including corporate and media houses), government or private sector.
- The policy recommends that all organisations must have a code of conduct based on “zero tolerance of child abuse and exploitation”. This requires organisations to lay down that employees don’t use language or behaviour that is “inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate”.
- The policy suggests designating a staff member to ensure that procedures are in place to ensure the protection of children as well as to report any abuse.
- The document contains guidelines for institutions and organisations to enforce the child protection policy.
- The guidelines include organising orientation programmes on child protection, designating responsibility to staff members to enforce child protection and report any abuse, exploitation or neglect, and respecting children “regardless of race, color, gender, sexuality, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status”.
- The policy lists of behaviours towards children that are punishable by law, including the POCSO and JJ Acts.
Comment: Shortfalls of the draft policy
The draft policy doesn’t talk about children who may need additional special protection measures: including those affected by migration, communal or sectarian violence, children forced into begging or in conflict with the law, and those infected with HIV/AIDS. It also doesn’t talk about the role of the state for ensuring the protection of child rights or addressing local grievances. The draft policy falls short in defining what child protection is as well as what it means by institutions or organisations. Even though the draft policy talks organisations laying down a code of conduct, it doesn’t explain what is acceptable behaviour. Through the child protection policy the government must go beyond the role of institutions and look at the role of individuals to provide for a safe and conducive environment for all children.