Do You Know That Child Abuse Also Affects The Nation Financially? Yes, Read On

Posted: February 1, 2019

Child abuse is a grave issue in our country, yet it is never openly spoken about. The innocent, nurturing childhood of the abused is destroyed for someone’s few moments of pleasure or power.

Looking for comfort, the child often sees nothing but indifference from the law, and the people who try to suppress the issue as if nothing has happened.

Dissing child’s pain in the name of family honour is the bitter truth of child abuse in India.

But for those who still don’t get triggered by the damage child abuse brings, let me show how it can hurt in a way that can be better understood by everyone not directly affected. It also is affecting us economically, putting the nation in great deficit. The cost is difficult to calculate, but is undoubtedly is a significant amount.

As estimated by the government40% of India’s children are susceptible to threats like being homeless, trafficking, drug abuse, forced labor, and crime in India. Also, the jolting estimates state that every second child is being exposed to one or the other form of sexual abuse, and every fifth child faces critical levels of it.

When talking about India, it is home to almost 19% of the world’s children. More than one-third of the country’s population (roughly around 440 million) is below 18 years. And 40% of these children are in need of protection, which clearly specifies the magnitude of the problem.

What is child abuse?

Most people think about child abuse as limited to physical assaults. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

UNICEF defines violence against children as “physical and mental abuse and injury, neglect or negligent treatment, exploitation and sexual abuse.” Also explaining how it can take place anywhere in “homes, schools, orphanages, residential care facilities, on the streets, in the workplace, in prisons and in places of detention.” Violence is just one element of child abuse. Abuse can harm a child’s health, survival, dignity, and development, according to the WHO.

A terrible epidemic, it includes various forms of neglect, maltreatment of children by the hands of an adult, caregiver or a parent, as well as sexual abuse. An estimated 7.9% of males and 19.7% of females universally faced sexual abuse before the age of 18 years. Numbers for other unspoken and implicit forms of abuse are even higher. Some of the types are as follows:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Neglect – physical, medical, educational
  • Sexual, and Physical abuse
  • Child labor

Does child abuse make a person economically incompetent?

There are certain experiences that cause difficulties in childhood and beyond. These can either be the absence of fulfilment of certain needs, or the presence of upsetting events. As much as it causes physiological, behavioral, physical repercussions, it can also make a person economically incompetent.

Affecting an individual’s mental health, child abuse can lead to:

  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Lost work productivity, adult underemployment, and low income
  • Adult criminality – According to a particular set of data, adults who had been abused or neglected were 38% more likely to have been arrested for a violent crime.
  • Low socioeconomic status

If an individual proves to be incompetent, not contributing to the national GDP, there is a chance that the reason is deep-rooted in his past. The traumatic experience of child abuse can be a cause for diminishing productivity.

Child abuse- How much does a nation pay?

There have been definite attempts to calculate the damage child abuse lays on an economy. The emotional, and physical trauma, however, cannot be quantified, but certain consequence can be represented in figures. According to the source Childfund.org, the global costs of child labor is somewhere around 2-5 percent to as high as 3-8 percent in global GDP.

From (2001), the report stated, the total direct, and indirect cost of child abuse and neglect was about $94 billion.

  • Direct costs: Hospital costs for medical treatment, foster care costs for those victimized by family, chronic health problems, mental health costs
  • The cost incurred by the government: Child welfare cost, law enforcement cost, expenses of the judicial system
  • Indirect costs: Special education, mental health, and physical care. Loss of competence as a productive adult when the child grows up.

What funds every year in the name of child protection?

Child abuse in India is a staggering reality. Given the importance it requires, do our laws go full-throttle in safeguarding our children, which are said to be a ‘special asset’ to the country? Or are they just made more helpless in the hands of the law?

According to a study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, total expenditure on children in the areas of health, education, development, and protection combined accounted to as little as 3.86%, (2005-2006), rising to 4.91% (2006-07). The funds allocated to child protection were even lower than a whole number, resting at 0.034% in 2005-06 and remained the same in 2006-07. Available resources have been under-utilized in matters pertaining to child protection and safety. As a result, child protection in India is abysmal.

Although there is a scarcity of data on the nature and magnitude of child abuse in India, here are some facts acquainting you with our harsh reality:-

  • The world’s highest number of working children are in India.
  • India has the world’s largest number of sexually abused children.
  • A child below 16 years raped every 155th minute, a child below 10 years every 13th hour, and one in every 10 children sexually abused at different points of time.
  • Most of the sexual abuse goes unreported. Children are not given the protective, and therapeutic assistance they need, leaving them alone to suffer in silence.

How can Indian law be more cost-effective in preventing child abuse?

The issue of child abuse in India should be at the forefront of our national agenda. By uniting the efforts of the government, civil society, and communities in the protection of the children of our nation, the issue can gain the momentum it deserves.

This pervasive malady can be curbed without exhausting large government’s resources, through the following measures:

  • Criteria to be set up, called ‘child check’, just like how adults are treated with certain conditions of addiction, etc.
  • Rescuing children from banned occupations, and streamlining them into appropriate education streams.
  • The inclusion of knowledge on child protection measures, and life-skills within the school curriculum.
  • Altering the social norms that hide violence is an effective way of ending it.
  • Enforcing laws that protect children from abuse, to send a message across people that violence in any form is a serious offence.

It is high time that both the government and citizens start acting towards abolishing child abuse instead of shoving it under the carpet. Children should not be victimized; rather they should be empowered, as they are the future of our nation.

A version of this was first published here.

Image source: pixabay

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