Executive, Legislative and Judicial Actions against Child Abuse in India

Child abuse is classified into physical, sexual and emotional. Each of them has recognizable characteristics. Physical abuse is indicated by bruises, burns, fractures, abrasions and injuries. Sexual abuse, which is involvement of children in sexual activities which they don’t comprehend and unable to give consent; is usually not identified with physical indicators alone. Under it, a child confides in a trusted person that she / he have been sexually assaulted. Difficulty in walking, stained and torn underclothes, complaints of pain or itching; bleeding; pregnancy in adolescence are some of the characteristics of sexual abuse. At the same time, sexual abuse results in some peculiar behaviour indicators such as – Child appears withdrawn or retarded; has poor relations; unwilling to participate in children activities; delinquent behaviour and unusual sexual knowledge.

Emotional abuse on the other hand is neglect or maltreatment, failure to provide essentials of normal life etc.

Legislative Actions to address Child Abuse

Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

Before this law was passed in 2012, the cases related to sexual abuse of children were dealt under section 377 of the IPC. This section did not make distinction between adult and child. POCSO is an stringent law passed by India’s parliament to address the evil of child sexual abuse. This law is gender neutral and defines child as any person below 18 years of age as child. It provides clear definition of the “penetrative sexual assault”, “sexual assault” and “sexual harassment” — the offence is considered graver if it is committed by a police officer, public servant, any member of the staff at a remand home, protection or observation home, jail, hospital or educational institution, or by a member of the armed or security forces. Stringent punishment (minimum 7 years) has been provided along with fast track courts, relief and rehabilitation as soon as the complaint is made; speedy disposal of trials in special children’s courts; and special procedures to keep the accused away from the child at the time of testifying. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have been made the designated authority to monitor the implementation of the Act.

Executive Action


Government of India is running an Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) to help secure the safety of children, with a special emphasis on children in need of care and protection, juveniles in conflict or contact with the law and other vulnerable children.


In August 2016, the Union Government has launched POCSO e-box, an online complaint management system for easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012. It is an initiative of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, for direct online reporting of child sexual Abuse.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

NCPCR is a statutory body established under Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. Under the POCSO act, it has been given following functions under:

  • to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the POCSO Act
  • to monitor the designation of Special Courts by state governments;
  • to monitor the appointment of Public Prosecutors by state governments;
  • to monitor the formulation of the guidelines described in the Act by the state governments etc.

Judicial Action and Child Abuse

The Judicial action {by Supreme Court} has been to ask the government to consider harsher punishment in child sexual abuse case. The court has asked the government to consider enacting a separate law for protection of children below 10 years of age and imposing further rigorous punishment to perpetrators.


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