More than One lakh 40 thousand crimes against children have been recorded in 2018, which means as many as 388 crimes were committed each day in the year. This is revealed by the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) latest report, published on 9th January 2020. Overall, crimes against children has increased steeply over 500% in the decade over 2008-2018, from 22,500 cases recorded in 2008 to 141764 cases in 2018.
The other startling fact remains is that in 2017-2018 crimes against children rose by a sharp 10%, while the overall crime in India rose by just 1.4% over the same time-span. In terms of the rate of cognizable crimes against children (rate of crime is population adjusted – it gives number of crimes for every 1 lakh population of children), India witnessed a rise from 28.9 to 31.8.
Further in-depth analysis of the NCRB 2018 report done by CRY – Child Rights and You reveals that kidnapping and abduction still stands at the top of all crime heads against children. Overall, 62,668 number of K&A (kidnapping and abduction) cases were registered in the year, which saw a rise of 15.7 per cent over the previous year (2017).
Crimes under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act stands at the second single largest category of crimes committed against children with 39,827 cases registered in one year. In addition to crimes reported under POCSO Act, 9312 cases of rape under section 376 IPC were also recorded.
Analysing the latest NCRB data, Priti Mahara, Director of Policy Research and Advocacy at CRY – Child Rights and You said, “While on the one hand, the increasing numbers of crimes against children are extremely alarming, it also suggests an increasing trend in reporting which is a positive sign as it reflects better awareness among people. It also provides a direction in which government interventions must be made and evidence needs to be created. While some major efforts have been taken to ensure child protection, a lot more is needed to see expected results on the ground.”
Cases under Cyber Crimes / Information Technology Act against children also saw a steep rise of 48 per cent over the previous year, as 117 cases were reported under this crime head.
A closer look at the state-wise segregation of crimes against children reveals that the five big states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Bihar account for 51 per cent of all crimes in the country. While Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 19,936 recorded crimes (14% of total crimes), Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the close second and third with 18,992 and 18,892 crimes registered respectively. Delhi tops the list when it comes to rate of crime against children at 147.2 while the national average is only 31.8.
The report also suggests that children are in no way more protected in the shelter homes. Cases of sexual harassments in shelter homes against women and children reportedly increased by 30 per cent, from 544 cases recorded in 2017 to 707 cases in 2018. More worryingly, 32 per cent of cases against children under the Juvenile Justice (JJ) ACT were committed by care takers / in-charges of Juvenile Homes.
A total of 67,134 children were reported missing in 2018 of which nearly 70% were girls.
Deliberating on what’s to be done, Priti Mahara suggested that “Financial investments must be adequately increased with a focus on prevention of crimes against children and the identification of vulnerable children and families. Strengthening community level child protection system is also a key to prevention. While there is growing evidence of the precarious lives that children in India are leading, it is essential that this evidence is used to effectively inform policy and programme initiatives”