31 views 5 mins 0 Comment

Activists warn of increase in child sexual cases in TN after schools remain shut due to pandemic

- January 18, 2022

Chennai, Jan 18 (BPNS)

Child Rights activists of Tamil Nadu have warned of the possibility of children being sexually harassed following the closing down of schools till January 31 after the Covid surge in the state.

It may be noted that during the previous pandemic in 2020, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has cited an increase of criminal activities against children including sexual harassment cases by 4.8%.

According to reports, child marriages were also on the increase in Tamil Nadu during 2020 and 2021 when schools were closed and classes were held online. The main reason for this is stated as the parents wanting to send the girl child in marriage even if she is much below the marriageable age and with restrictions inflicted in the number of persons participating in marriages, the expenses can also be reduced.

K. Karuppanan, Child rights activist and Member, Centre for Studies of Child development based out of Madurai while speaking to IANS said, “ The studies during the previous two pandemic and the closing down of schools have given a clear picture of the increase in sexual abuse cases against children as also an increase in child marriages. This is very much possible during this period when schools are shut down and the Government social welfare department has to be on the vigil as well as the teachers.”

The only solution according to the activists and teachers is that the vigilance on these children has to be increased. Vulnerable children from rural areas, poor backgrounds, dependent on relatives for their existence should be under the focus and the state school education department and the social welfare department has to increase the vigil to prevent such happenings.

Teachers can play a major role by speaking to the children on a daily basis after their classes end and teachers can take turns speaking to children. However daily at least one teacher must speak to the children to ensure that they are safe and are not being exploited.

Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch convenor, Andrew Sesuraj while speaking to BPNS said, “ The school education department can use the Illam Thedi Kalvi scheme to monitor absenteeism among children and the scheme’s volunteers can upload the details of absent children on the Educational Management Information System. Teachers can check on these figures and follow up on the children.”

While the Tamil Nadu government has announced shutting down of schools till January 31, the possibilities of extending the closure of schools are on the higher side with the Covid cases continuing to mount. This will lead to children becoming more vulnerable and the social workers and health workers of each area should keep an eye on the children who are at home.

The Tamil Nadu government has already set up a system in place to lodge complaints against sexual abuse in schools, online classes pose more danger as parents in almost all cases would have gone for their working areas and children are most likely to be alone at home.

R. Mukunda Kannan a child rights activist based out of Tiruvallur while speaking to BPNS said, “Children have to be monitored properly by parents, teachers and local volunteers. If there are some discrepancies in their behaviour, they have to be consulted by a local councilor and the child be given proper mental support on their behavioral changes.”

The closing down of schools are now posing a major threat for the Children in many parts of Tamil Nadu as the easy accessibility of smartphones and other electronic gadgets make children exposed to predators on the net and with the child being alone at home, the chances of getting exploited are much more.