All children due to their age are considered to be at risk for exploitation, abuse, violence and neglect. However, children in especially difficult circumstances including orphans and street children, refugee or displaced children, child workers, children trapped in prostitution or sexual abuse, disabled children and delinquent children are particularly vulnerable.
But vulnerability cannot be defined simply by age. While 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:
• Physical disabilities
• Mental disabilities
• 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.
• 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.
• Younger children, especially those below the age of six, are much more dependent on the protection system.
Vulnerable children in India face further problems, such as the following:
• Some of them are exploited as child labourers
• Children facing poverty and discrimination are more vulnerable to malnutrition, bad health, poor educational facilities, poor resources, thus restricting their freedoms and opportunities
• Girl babies are at an even greater disadvantage due to prevailing social norms that tend to value males much more than females, which leads to son ‘preference’
• A girl child faces different forms of violence like infanticide, neglect of nutrition needs, lack of education and healthcare facilities etc.
Schemes Related to Children
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme
• To improve the nutritional and health status of children in the age-group 0-6 years;
• To lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical and social development of the child;
• To reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school dropout;
• To enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.
• Children in the age group of 0-6 years
• Pregnant women and Lactating mothers
Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA)
- The programme seeks to open new schools in those habitations which do not have schooling facilities and strengthen existing school infrastructure through provision of additional class rooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grants.
- Existing schools with inadequate teacher strength are provided with additional teachers, while the capacity of existing teachers is being strengthened by extensive training.
Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme
Mid-day meal (MDM) is a wholesome freshly-cooked lunch served to children in government and governmen taided schools in India. Mid-Day Meal Scheme aims to:
• avoid classroom hunger
• increase school enrolment
• increase school attendance
• improve socialisation among castes
• address malnutrition
• empower women through employment
Platform for Effective Enforcement for No Child Labour
PENCIL is an electronic platform that aims at involving Centre, State, District, Governments, civil society and the general public in achieving the target of child labour free society.
Components of the PENCIL
• Child Tracking System
• Complaint Corner
• State Government
• National Child Labour Project and
National Child Labour Project (NCLP)
NCLP is a project of Ministry of Labour. Its basic objective is to suitably rehabilitate the children withdrawn from employment thereby reducing the incidence of child labour in areas of known concentration of child labour.
Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (SABLA)
Empowerment of adolescent girls has multiple dimensions, and requires a multi-sectoral response. SABLA is a comprehensively conceived scheme which involves inputs from key sectors of health, education and employment, each of which addresses needs fundamental to the holistic growth of an adolescent girl.
Its intended beneficiaries are adolescent girls of 11–18 years old under all ICDS projects in selected 200 districts in all states/UTs in the country
Other Schemes Related to Girl Child
• The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme has been introduced in October, 2014 to address the issue of declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR)
• ‘Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna’ is a small deposit scheme for girl child, launched as a part of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign, which would fetch an interest rate of 9.1 per cent and provide income tax rebate.
• Girls’ Hostel Scheme in Educationally Backward Blocks is being implemented from 2009-10 to set up a 100- bedded Girls’ Hostel in each of 3479 Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs) in the country.
• Udaan is an initiative of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to enable girl students to soar to higher education from schools, and to eventually take various leadership roles in future.
Mechanisms Existing in India for Vulnerable Sections
• Article 15(3): State can make special provisions for betterment of children.
• Article 21 A: State to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years
• Article 23: Right to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded labour
• Article 24: Prohibition of employment of children below the age of 14 years of age in factories
• Article 45: The state to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years
Legislations Related to Children
• Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986
• The Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994
(PCPNDT Act, 1994)
• Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015- It provides for strengthened provisions for both children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law.
• Protection of Children from Sexual offences Act, 2012: It deals with sexual offences against persons below 18 years of age, who are deemed as children.
• The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
• The Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993
Institutions and Bodies for the betterment of children
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
It is a statutory body created under Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 to exercise and performs the powers and functions assigned to it under CPCR Act, 2005. Its mission is to ensure that all laws, policies, programmes and administrative mechanisms are in consonance with the child rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India as well as in, the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child, which India ratified in 1992.
POCSO e-Box for children
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) e-Box is an online complaint box for reporting child sexual abuse.
Central Adoption Resource Authority
Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is a statutory body of Ministry of Women & Child Development Government of India. It functions as the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
CARA primarily deals with adoption of orphan, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated adoption agencies.
Child Care Institution
A child care institution as defined under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, means Children Home, Open Shelter, Observation Home, Special Home, Place of Safety, Specialised Adoption Agency and a Fit Facility recognized under the Act for providing care and protection to children, who are in need of such services.
CHILDLINE is India’s first 24-hour, free, emergency phone service for children in need of aid and assistance based on 1098 Tele Helpline Model.