THE INTEGRATED CHILD PROTECTION SCHEME (ICPS) - A Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Indian Government – Civil Society Partnership By Malay Dewanji, Hony. General Secretary, LAMP, India. And President, FICE – India.
India is home to almost 19% of the world’s children. More than one third of the country’s population, around 440 million, is below 18 years. India’s children are India’s future as strength of the nation lies in a healthy, protected, educated and well-developed child population that will grow up to be productive citizens of the country. India must invest resources in children proportionate to their huge numbers.
An exercise on child budgeting carried out by the Ministry of Women and Child Development revealed that total expenditure on children in 2005-2006 in health, education, development and protection together amounted to a mere 3.86%, rising to 4.91% in 2006-07. However, the share of resources for child protection was an abysmal low of 0.034% in 2005-06 and it remained the same in 2006-07.
It is estimated that around 170 million or 40 per cent of India’s children are vulnerable to or experiencing difficult circumstances. There is, therefore, an urgent case for increasing expenditure on child protection so that the rights of the children of India are protected. The neglect of child protection issues results in outright violation of the rights of the children and increases their vulnerability to abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The Constitution of India recognizes the vulnerable position of children and their right to protection. Article 15 the Constitution guarantees special attention to children through necessary and special laws and policies that safeguard their rights. The Right to equality, protection of life and personal liberty and the right against exploitation is enshrined in Articles 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 23 and 24.
The child rights and welfare concerns have been addressed in a number of International Conventions and Standards on child protection including the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989, the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (The Beijing Rules),
1985, the UN Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, 1990, and the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993. The Government of India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1992. The Convention prescribes standards to be adhered to by all State parties in securing the best interest of the child.
It emphasizes social reintegration of child victims, without resorting to judicial proceedings. The UNCRC outlines the fundamental rights of children, including the right to be protected from economic exploitation and harmful work, from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse, and from physical or mental violence, as well as ensuring that children will not be separated from their family against their will.
India has adopted a number of laws and formulated a range of policies to ensure children’s protection and improvement in their situation including, the Guardian and Wards Act 1890, Factories Act 1948, Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, Probation of Offenders Act 1958, Bombay Prevention of Begging Act 1959, Orphanages and Other Charitable Homes (Supervision and Control) Act 1960,
National Policy for Children 1974, Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, Child Marriage and Restraint Act 1979, Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1986, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, National Policy on Education 1986, Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1987, National Policy on Child Labour 1987, Infant Milk Substitutes,
Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 1992,National Nutrition Policy 1993, Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act 1994, Persons with Disabilities (Equal Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 2000, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, National Health Policy 2002,
National Charter for Children 2004, National Plan of Action for Children 2005 and Commissions for Protection of the Rights of the Child, 2005. However, these laws and policies promising respect for child rights, their protection and well being have not resulted in much improvement in lives of millions of Indian children
who continue to be deprived of their rights, abused, exploited and taken away from their families and communities. Scant attention and feeble commitment to resolving child protection problems have resulted in poor implementation of these laws and policies; meagre resources; minimal infrastructure; inadequate services in variety, quantity and quality; and inadequate monitoring and evaluation.
‘Child Protection’ is about protecting children from or against any perceived or real danger or risk to their life, their personhood and childhood. It is about reducing their vulnerability to any kind of harm and protecting them in harmful situations. It is about ensuring that no child falls out of the social security and safety net and, those who do, receive necessary care, protection and support so as to bring them back into the safety net.
While protection is a right of every child, some children are more vulnerable than others and need special attention. The Government recognizes these children as ‘children in difficult circumstances’, characterized by their specific social, economic and geo-political situations. In addition to providing a safe environment for these children, it is imperative to ensure that all other children also remain protected.
Child protection is integrally linked to every other right of the child. Failure to ensure children’s right to protection adversely affects all other rights of the child. Thus, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cannot be achieved unless child protection is an integral part of programmes, strategies and plans for their achievement. Failure to protect children from issues such as violence in schools,
Community level AIDS Intervention Programme, Organised by LAMP and Dishari Mahila Samity
child labour, harmful traditional practices, child marriage, child abuse, the absence of parental care and commercial sexual exploitation among others, means failure in fulfilling both the Constitutional and International commitments towards children. In light of its expanded mandate, the new Ministry of Women and Child Development views Child Protection as an essential
component of the country’s strategy to place ‘Development of the child at the centre of the 11th Plan’.Violations of the child’s right to protection, in addition to being human rights violations, are massive, under-recognized and under-reported obstacles to child survival and development. Failure to protect children has serious consequences for the physical,
mental, emotional and social development of the child, with consequences of a loss in productivity and quality of human capital for the nation. The National Plan of Action for Children 2005 articulates the rights agenda for the development of children. The NPAC 2005 is the basis for planning for children in the Eleventh Plan
in all sectors and the principles articulated in it should guide the planning and investments for children. Such a comprehensive approach to child protection is required if India is to achieve Millennium Development Goals. It is also required that all budgets for child protection services should be in the plan category and not in the non-plan category.
The Ministry of Women and Child, is committed to creating a solid foundation for a protective environment for children. The Ministry will strengthen prevention of the child rights violation; enhance infrastructure for protection services; increase access to a wider range and better quality of services; increase investment in child protection and raise awareness of child rights and their violation and the situation of India’s children.
National Mechanisms » Child Targeted Schemes & Programmes » Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) In 2006 the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) proposed the adoption of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS). In 2009 the central government take the scheme its approval
and has begun the extensive task of providing children with a protection and safe environment to develop and flourish. The purpose of the scheme is to provide for children in difficult circumstances, as well as to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities children have in various situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children.
The specific objectives of the scheme are: • To institutionalize essential services and strengthen structures • To enhance capacities of all systems and persons involved in service delivery • To create database and knowledge base for child protection services • To strengthen child protection at family and community level
To coordinate and network with government institutions and non-government institutions to ensure effective implementation of the scheme • To raise public awareness about child rights, child vulnerability and child protection services.
According to the understanding of the Government of India and civil society organisations, the definition of vulnerable children and their problems and related issues are as follows:- Vulnerable Children : All children due to their age are considered to be at risk for exploitation, abuse, violence and neglect.
But vulnerability cannot be defined simply by age.Though age is one component, Vulnerability is also measured by the child's capability for self-protection. The question that arises is, are children capable of protecting themselves. Can children provide for their basic needs, defend against a dangerous situation or even recognise a dangerous situation is developing?
These questions call for a redefinition of the concept of self-protection. A child's vulnerability comes from various factors that hinder a child's ability to function and grow normally. Hence self-protection is more about the ability of the child to lead a healthy life within a child protection system; the ability to protect themselves or get help from people who can provide protection. The term vulnerable children refer to an age group that is considered at risk.
But vulnerability of children is further compounded by the following factors: • Age within age: Younger children, especially those below the age of six, are much more dependent on the protection system. • Physical disabilities • Mental disabilities
Convention of CSWs on Micro Finance and Livelihood Development Programme through their Self-Help Groups, at Ghutiary Shariff, 24 Pgs.(S).
Provocative behaviours: due to ignorance or misunderstanding of children's mental health or behavioural problems, some people can become irritated or frustrated and hence lash out against children or neglect them completely. • Powerlessness: comes of the situations and people that surround the children. If a child is given the power by the state, family or community to participate and fulfil their own rights and responsibilities they are less vulnerable.
Defencelessness: comes from the lack of protection provided by the state or parents or community. If there is no child abuse law than how is a child suppose to defend himself/herself against abuse. • Passivity: due to situation or treatment of the child. For example a child who is enslaved or oppressed does not have the ability to seek help or protection.
Illness • Invisible: Children who the system doesn't even recognise are highly vulnerable. • The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) like the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 defines vulnerability in two categories: children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law.
Children in need of care and protection is defined as a child who : • Doesn't have a home or shelter and no means to obtain such an abode • Resides with a person(s) who has threatened to harm them and is likely to carry out that threat, harmed other children and hence is likely to kill, abuse or neglect the child.
Is mentally or physically handicapped, or has an illness, terminal or incurable disease and has no one to provide and care for him/her. • Has a parent or guardian deemed unfit or unable to take care of the child. • Is an orphan, has no family to take care of him/her, or is a runaway or missing child whose parents cannot be located after a reasonable search period.
Is being or is likely to be sexual, mentally, emotionally or physically abused, tortured or exploited. • Is being trafficked or abusing drug substances. • Is being abused for unthinkable gains or illegal activities. • Is a victim of arm conflict, civil unrest or a natural disaster
Children in conflict with law are juveniles who have allegedly committed a crime under the Indian Penal Code. The ICPS also recognises a third category of children; Child in contact with law. These children are victims of or witnesses to crimes. ICPS lastly outlines that vulnerable children groups also include but are not limited to the following: "children of potentially vulnerable families and families at risk,
children of socially excluded groups like migrant families, families living in extreme poverty, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, families subjected to or affected by discrimination, minorities, children infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS, orphans, child drug abusers, children of substance abusers, child beggars, trafficked or sexually exploited children, children of prisoners, and street and working children.
“UNICEF views vulnerable children as those who are abused, exploited, and neglected. Child protection is derived out of the duty to respond to the needs of vulnerable groups of children. UNICEF outlines the following groups as vulnerable: Children subjected to violence, Children in the midst of armed conflict, Children associated with armed groups, Children affected by HIV/AIDS, Children without birth registration, Children engaged in labour, Child engaged in marriage, Children in Conflict with the Law,
Children without Parental Care, Children used for commercial sexual exploitation, Female children subjected to genital mutilation / cutting, and Trafficked children. Each of these groups and other protection issues is discussed in the next section: Children's Issues.
Vulnerable Children Related Issues: Vulnerability of children leads to and is further created by the socio-cultural, socio political and socio-religious situations they are in. A child who is forced or born into a situation or discriminated group is at risk for abuse, neglect and exploitation.
The lack of a protection system either due to mis-implementation of national laws and programmes or the absence of protection policies and legislation also renders children vulnerable. Following is a discussion of various protection issues concerning children. • Abuse and Violence • Street Children