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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Abuse of Children Report

Good start but more work is needed for real understanding of the issues

Anu Oza's post on INI-Signal about the recently released Child Abuse report made me take a closer look at the report to probe a bit deeper than the screaming headlines in the newspapers reported when the study was released. Anu identifies an important deficit in the report. But my thoughts are about the report as complied.

The actual report can be found at an NGO portal.

I have to say I'm little disappointed with the study. Given the amount of data they collected, the analysis was very rudimentary - just a compilation of data rather than identifying correlations between questions and much more analysis, i.e., there was no significant statistical analysis to clean up the data.

The questions, while mostly open ended, do not include alternatives or similar questions to understand the patterns better (there are some) such as spanking of children. Spanking of children for doing something wrong, according to parents, is very common in Indian families and I personally would not put it in abuse category unless children are brutally beaten (and for not reason). Similarly fighting between siblings is very common - these types of situations, surely not abuses in most situations, are not teased out and eliminated from distorting the data.

Some questions are very good but most needed to be probed more. Some are ridicules like - if a girl does household work that translates to her development time being taken away. Please.

Most worrying numbers are for sexual abuse questions - these need to studied further, preferably in an academic setting, instead of by the 'Save the Children' type NGOs – talk about conflict of interest.

Finally, no amount of laws or market place or corporate responsibility type ideas will help the situation - even if, as I suspect, the situation is not as dire as reported by the study. Education of parents, who are really the first line of defence for most children, in many formats, but mainly through popular media, is the key to getting the message across regarding the extent of abuse situations, actions the parents can take, and the remedies available to parents and children, legal or otherwise.

But our popular media has to pay attention to weddings between movie stars. Unfortunately, they have little time for such cursory issues.

Cross-posted on INI-Signal.