The Government of India – Ministry of Women and Child announced the new revised guidelines for the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS). This announcement strengthens India’s Commitment on Child Rights
‘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. This is because 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 programs, strategies and plans for their achievement. Failure to protect children from issues such as violence in schools, 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.
The National Charter for Children, 2003 adopted on 9th February 2004, underlined the intent to secure for every child its inherent right to be a child and enjoy a healthy and happy childhood, to address the root causes that negate the healthy growth and development of children, and to awaken the conscience of the community in the wider societal context to protect children from all forms of abuse, while strengthening the family, society and the Nation.
To affirm the Government’s commitment to the rights based approach in addressing the continuing and emerging challenges in the situation of children, the Government of India drafted the National Policy for Children, 2013, and reiterates its commitment to safeguard, inform, include, support and empower all children within its territory and jurisdiction, both in their individual situation and as a national asset. The State is committed to take affirmative measures – legislative, policy or otherwise – to promote and safeguard the right of all children to live and grow with equity, dignity, security and freedom, especially those marginalised or disadvantaged; to ensure that all children have equal opportunities; and that no custom, tradition, cultural or religious practice is allowed to violate or restrict or prevent children from enjoying their rights.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development, (MWCD) extends its commitment of the XI plan for creating a solid foundation for a protective environment for 40 per cent of India’s vulnerable children who are experiencing difficult circumstances, by continuing the centrally sponsored Scheme – the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in XII plan. The Scheme, since its launch in 2009, in partnership with the State Governments/UT Administrations, has strengthened prevention of child rights violation; enhanced infrastructure for protection services; provided financial support for implementation of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2000; increased access to a wider range and better quality of services; increased investment in child protection and is continuously drawing focus on the right of children to be safe.
The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) has significantly contributed to the realization of Government/State responsibility for creating a system that will efficiently and effectively protect children. Based on cardinal principles of “protection of child rights” and “best interest of the child”, ICPS is achieving its objectives to contribute to the improvements in the well being of children in difficult circumstances, as well as to the reduction of vulnerabilities to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children from their families.