India is home to the largest child population in the world, with almost 41 per cent of the total population under eighteen years of age. The health and security of the country's children is integral to any vision for its progress and development. Doctors and health care professionals are often the first point of contact for abused and neglected children. They play a key role in detecting child abuse and neglect, provide immediate and longer term care and support to children. Despite being important stakeholders, often physicians have a limited understanding on how to protect these vulnerable groups. There is an urgent need for systematic training for physicians to prevent, detect and respond to cases of child abuse and neglect in the clinical setting. The purpose of the present article is to provide an overview of child abuse and neglect from a medical assessment to a socio-legal perspective in India, in order to ensure a prompt and comprehensive multidisciplinary response to victims of child abuse and neglect. During their busy clinical practice, medical professionals can also use the telephone help line (CHILDLINE telephone 1098) to refer cases of child abuse, thus connecting them to socio-legal services. The physicians should be aware of the new legislation, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, which requires mandatory reporting of cases of child sexual abuse, failing which they can be penalized. Moreover, doctors and allied medical professionals can help prevent child sexual abuse by delivering the message of personal space and privacy to their young patients and parents.
The article demonstrates the global burden of Child Neglect in both developing and developed countries. It clarifies the definition and types of Child Neglect; addresses the various risk factors and causes of Child Neglect. Acknowledging the role of poverty and social disadvantage in child neglect, it raises the big question of how to assess and address child neglect in low resource countries? Specific subgroups at risk for neglect, such as the girl child, disabled children, marginalized populations, are addressed with specific case examples. The general principles for the assessment of children in need and their families provide a real good guidance for the multidisciplinary assessment of the 'at risk children and their families'. The paper also provides strategies to address neglect with or without the presence of Child protection services (CPS) in resource poor developing countries. There are compelling reasons to believe that primary prevention of neglect and public health approach to child protection are the only way to ensure that all children are protected within a population. In accordance with the UNCRC, article addresses the role of creative child welfare leaders, legislators, media advocacy campaigns, parents and "coalition of willing" everywhere developing innovative policy systems reforms and practice strategies that promise to lead the way towards prevention and managing child neglect and child welfare.
"Child Labour" is a serious violation of fundamental rights of children. From the rights based perspective, there can be no excuse for existence of child labour. It deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to their physical and mental development. Child labour is a global phenomenon; around 168 million children work, many full-time worldwide. It is essentially a socio-economic problem, inextricably linked to poverty and illiteracy. There is a consensus emerging that when a child is not in school, the child would perforce be part of the labour pool.
The purpose of this chapter is to sensitize the professionals to respond to this large society and public health problem, with a multidisciplinary approach. There is an urgent and essential need to develop a comprehensive plan to withdraw children from work and mainstream them into schools, in order to provide them basic right to education. Besides provision of health care and rehabilitation, the medical professionals can protect the rights of these vulnerable and exploited children by connecting them to socio-legal systems. A busy doctor can simply call Child Helpline Telephone number 1098, which is now available in more than 400 Indian cities, and immediately obtain assistance from locally available child protection systems. Medical professionals can spearhead an advocacy movement against child labour in their regions and render justice for all children, towards equity and democracy
Medical professionals are often the first point of contact with abused children, adolescents and their families. They have a key role in detecting abuse and providing immediate and long-term care and support to the children, adolescents and their families. The purpose of this chapter is to sensitize our health professionals on how to use Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) act of 2012 (Box 4.7.1) and respond to this large societal and public health problem, with a multi-disciplinary approach. The basic understanding of POCSO Act aims to serve as a guide to ensure a prompt and adequate response to victims of child sexual abuse by all medical professionals.