Chandigarh is a small city with a big heart. The Chandigarh
Administration has always put children first and its concern for
them is evident in urban planning, infrastructure, education
facilities and opportunities for their all-round growth. Nowhere
else in India do you have the vast green spaces that we still
cherish and preserve here, despite stiff pressures from a
rapidly growing population. Our schools are spacious, airy and
safe, and our play-areas well - equipped and imaginatively
We are concerned about the safety and welfare of Chandigarh
children, and not just when they come to school. Children are
particularly vulnerable to danger and abuse because of their
innocent and trusting nature. Child abuse is universal and
widely prevalent - it is just not as widely reported or
adequately addressed, as it should be. With 19% of the word’s
children living in India, four out of every ten Indians are
children. When they are educated, healthy and happy, they are
the country’s greatest human resource.
Sadly, recent surveys report that over 50% of children have
experienced physical abuse of different kinds, and a staggering
number of them have encountered abuse right in their homes. In
fact, half of all reported cases of child abuse were committed
by people known to the child or regarded by him or her as being
responsible and trustworthy. Shocking but true, over 70% of
abused children have never reported the matter to anybody. They
silently carry these scars throughout their lives and suffer
traumas of unknown magnitude.
Policies and legislation abound, but the true test of our
sensitivity is, how effectively are we able to protect our
children? We are clear that protection of child rights and
prevention of abuse or violence against children require all
citizens to come together. Vigilant and conscious citizens,
aware and well – equipped children and a concerned and effective
response mechanism are the three planks on which child
protection rests. Usually, intervention occurs only after abuse
is reported. Therefore, prevention is crucial. Parents, teachers
and neighborhood watch groups need to work in tandem with law
enforcement agencies and rehabilitation professionals to save
The Chandigarh Administration will serve as an umbrella
organization and act as an enabler for all groups active in
child protection programmes. To combat child abuse, we will
function as the catalyst and provide support and networking
opportunities to agencies active in this area. The child in need
is someone we must reach out to hence we will demonstrate our
capacity to care and our commitment to rehabilitate victims
through sustained campaigns and systematic interventions.
Chandigarh Action Plan
After three rounds of consultation with professionals, NGO’s
and other interest groups, we have put in place a plan for
action on these lines.
SENSITIZATION OF TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS
Through a series of workshops and interactive sessions, we
plan to reach out to teachers and principals to help make
schools safer. We shall focus on critical issues like corporal
punishment, handling disobedience or delinquency, peer abuse,
fights among pupils, classroom indiscipline, academic
performance and campus safety. Recognizing a victim or a
sufferer, Counseling him, providing relief and organizing
therapy we believe that all teachers should be equipped to do
COUNSELING IN SCHOOLS
Many schools already offer Counseling on campus. The
Chandigarh Administration proposes to enlist a panel of
qualified counselors to visit its schools and offer counseling
services to students, parents and teachers.
A fortnightly Speak Out ! Session will be held in every school
where children can give free vent to their innermost thoughts
and fears. Teachers will facilitate this process and step back
and listen. Later they will give feedback to principals and
parents on the issues raised by children. We aim to move away
from a culture of enforced silence to a responsible expression
of opinion including dissent and disappointment.
AWARENESS PROGRAMMES FOR CHILDREN
We will run programmes for them on child protection, safety
strategies and ‘how to…………’ themes: ‘how to tackle abuse, report
it, seek help, etc.’. Puppet shows, theatre and discussion
formats will be used.
‘SAFE CHILD’ DROP – BOXES
Every school will install a Drop Box for suggestions, feed
back and tip-offs. The Principal or designated social worker
will open it and act on the contents.
COMMUNICATING WITH PARENTS
Schools will be writing to parents asking them to be aware of
the potential of abuse and plug and security gaps in the child’s
schedule. They will raise issues like:
- Is the child being left along with an unreliable helper?
- Have the antecedents of caregivers been verified?
- Have parents checked out the schools bus routes or the
school bus stop?
- Parents must make sudden, unexpected visits to the house
when the care given least expects it, or to the hobby class
venue or sports centre.
- Parents must carefully consider the implications of
leaving the child alone with visitors, house guests or even
family members and recognize that the potential for abuse
- Parents must install home safety devices to prevent
break-ins and intrusions.
- Parents must foster healthy neighbourhood links.
- Are they watching out for behavioural changes in the
- Are parents themselves pressurizing the child over
scholastic performance or other issues?
The Chandigarh Police runs a Helpline 1091 to cater to
distress calls. Children and vigilant citizens can report child
abuse or other crimes on this Helpline. We will shortly have
mobile numbers manned by our volunteers who are drawn from
various professions administration, police, lawyers, doctors,
psychologists, social workers and educators, to serve as an
instant support system and form a rapid response team
Response to Information: Assuming a call is made to
our helpline or information is received by any other means, the
following steps will follow:
- The concerned Police Station will be alerted.
- Police accompanied by expert volunteers will proceed to
the victim’s location and take stock.
- Spot relief will be provided.
- If need be, the victim will be escorted away from the
location for a medical check up and psychological
- The Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16 will
make the medical examination possible under the direct and
sensitive supervision of the Medical Superintendent.
- A volunteer who will serve as a mother figure will be
with the victim for support and strength.
- If any provisions of law are attracted, the police would
handle these aspects with care, sensitivity and alacrity.
Evaluation: The next day, an evaluation team
comprising a police officer, therapist, social worker and a
mother figure will do a detailed assessment of the victim’s
conditions and outline a specialized treatment plan for him or
Therapy: If the victim has to be removed form his or
her location, shelter can be offered at the Panchayat Bhawan
facility round the clock. A team of attendants will be in place
here. Therapy and counselling sessions will continue at this
centre. Counselling will be geared towards eliminating stigma
and rehabilitation of the victim.
Rehabilitation: After the victim is found to be fit,
he or she can be sent back home if the conditions are
appropriate or else a resettlement plan will have to be worked
out for him or her which again will be the responsibility of the
multi- disciplinary evaluation team. Apart from scientific
methods of counselling we propose to use occupational and
recreational therapy as well. If the victim’s age and situation
so warrant we will include vocational guidance and explore
employment avenues for him or her.
Multi Agency Team: The Chandigarh Administration will
support a multi - agency team comprising doctors, psychologist,
social worker, police personnel, lawyers, therapists and
citizens with time on their hands and concern in their hearts,
to work closely with the victim at every stage.
A rehab-cum-therapy centre is being set up under this
Programme. The location will be central and the ambience
pleasant. A fully equipped, specialized Rehabilitation Facility
is also being planned in the medium-term.
MOTHERS AGAINST CHILD ABUSE
Every school can have a Mother’s Club that frequently meets
to discuss child safety issues. This forum will be facilitated
by an Administration volunteer. The Club will pass on candid
feedback to the Principal about teachers indulging in unsavory
practices, corporal punishment or verbal abuse or share
information about children’s problems.
COUNCILLORS AGAINST CHILD ABUSE
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh will hold awareness
sessions for councillors and ward committee members on child
protection. A safe neighbourhood is the fulcrum of overall civic
development. Councillors and Residents Welfare Groups can take
up issues of better street lighting, secure roads, safe parks
and playgrounds, strange goings on in particular house or
premises, suspicious movements of servants or strangers and so
CHILD FRIENDLY POLICE STATIONS
Every police official will be trained to handle cases
involving children with extra sensitivity. An annual workshop
will be held for police personnel on this Women and Child Help
Desks have now been set up in every Police Station. They will
respond to distress calls without loss of precious time. Strong
volunteer support to the police will enable it to produce better
PARENT VOLUNTEER A MUST
Incidents of abuse have been heard of during school picnic
and excursions. We will ask all institutions and the NCC to seek
a parent volunteer to accompany a group tour or a camp. The
volunteer’s expenses will be borne by the institution.
CHILD SAFE CRÈCHES
We have anganwadis and balwadis in the slums and basties. But
there is a need for a safe, brightly done up and well equipped
crèches for working parents to leave their children in. We plan
to begin with the southern sectors where more nuclear families
and latchkey children can be found. A string of crèches-perhaps
a public – private partnership model – is being considered. It
can be a self financing venture. Schools with extra space can
make a start by running a crèche on their premises. Government
Offices with more than 300 employees and private offices with
more than 100 employees can consider providing a crèche on the
premises, as it will improve employee productivity.
DAY CARE IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS
With the changing socio – economic and ethno- demographic
profile of Chandigarh grandparents are les likely to be able to
provide child care and the number of latchkey children is on the
rise. With today’s trend of ‘arrested families’ a single child
or a ‘lonely only’ is more vulnerable to abuse than a group of
siblings or even a paid of children left behind at home.
We have permitted regulated operation of paying guest
facilities, and even a bed-n-breakfast scheme for tourist (both
operating out of residential sites). We are now considering
permission to day care centres to operate out of 10 marla houses
(upto 20 children) after police verification and site
inspection. This will reduce the anxiety of working parents.
CHILD SAFETY IN SLUMS AND COLONIES, AND WORKING CHILDREN
These children are particularly vulnerable and need
specialized programmes. Some steps planned:
- Head count of young children in these areas.
- Health camps for children.
- Better street lighting and sanitation.
- Street plays and activities steered by the NCC, NSs and
- More schools in slums.
- Outreach camps by all Departments.
MALNUTRITION AND NEGLECT
Malnutrition, poor or gender-skewed access to medical care
and parental neglect are grave causes of childhood trauma can
actually retard the prosperity of an entire nation. The Health,
Education, Social Welfare and Engineering Department of the
Administration will work on strategies to fight these scourges.
Some area for immediate attention:
- Better coverage of compulsory immunization.
- Fight against anaemia.
- Prevention health.
- Hygiene and personal care.
- Support and guidance for dysfunctional and troubled
- Infrastructure as an enabler for the physically and
- Equal access and better coverage under all existing
CAMPAIGN AGAINST VERBAL ABUSE
We can recall instances of ridicule or scorn being heaped on
us by an insensitive teacher, angry parent or the school bully.
Such memories give us an uncomfortable feeling even decades
after. So let us put ourselves in the place of the child
encountering verbal abuse now. Today we know that verbal
assaults, humiliating or insulting speech, aggressive body
language and threats by authority figures constitute abuse, and
can severely disfigure the psyche of a child. We must highlights
the message: ‘Don’t taunt a child or ridicule him. Learn to
correct a child through appropriate words and gestures’ Frequent
displays of impatience, irritation and intolerance disturb a
child no end.
The task is huge, never-ending and all – encompassing. It
calls for 24x7 vigil and huge reserves of commitment. Our goal
is to create so much awareness that the secrecy shrouding the
problem, which is the most sinister aspect of child abuse, is
lifted. Everyone – parent, child, teacher or volunteer- must be
equipped to deal with an abuse situation. This programme is not
for the faint hearted or the casually inclined, so volunteer
selection and participation is vital. Write to us with your
thoughts and idea, share your comments, spare your free time for
Chandigarh’s children. If nothing, just be an aware and vigilant
parent and do your duty as a citizen. Report abuse, speak out
and help prevent further damage. At stake is the safety of a
child, the progress of a city and the development of the nation.
Please join us in this endeavour to make Chandigarh India’s
first child safe city.
|Adviser to the
Administrator, Chandigarh Administration
adviser-chd AT nic.in
Tel : +91 172 2740154, 2740164
||Home Secretary, Chandigarh Administration
hs-chd AT nic.in
Tel : +91 172 2740008, 2740216
|Finance Secretary, Chandigarh
fs-chd AT nic.in
Tel +91 172 2740017
||Special Secretary Finance, Chandigarh Administration
ssf-chd AT nic.in
Tel: +91 172 2740045
|Director Public Instructions, Chandigarh Administration
dpi-chd AT nic.in
Tel: +91 172 2740411
||Director Social Welfare,
Tel: +91 172 2700372
|Director Health Services, UT Chandigarh
Tel: +91 172 2700372
|Chandigarh Police Women &
|Child Line, PGI
|Women and Child Support Unit
Chandigarh Police, UT Chandigarh
||+91 – 94173 00004