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This article is written by Rachit Singh, student of University of Petroleum and Energy Studies.

The issue of domestic violence is something which still goes unacknowledged by various cultures of the world. Domestic violence has emerged as one of the predominant issues in the third world countries as the legislative bodies in most of these countries do not concede the fact that stringent law should be enacted in order to safeguard the children or young people from any physical or mental abuse. The United Nations, an inter-governmental body observed this phenomenon of domestic violence as a pattern of behavior of an individual who holds a significant advantage of authority over another irrespective of any intimate relationship. 

  1. Domestic violence can befall upon anyone, regardless of any age, color, caste, creed, race, ethnicity, and gender. The scope of this baleful act is quite extensive as it involves mental, sexual, economic, and physical abuse. This form of violence breeds in a variety of relationships including marital and non-marital.

Domestic violence or abuse against the children is growing at an alarming rate across all nations. The risk which this phenomenon poses against the children in particular is extremely dicey as every child’s mind and conscience are extremely vulnerable to the fact that they are easily influenced by any situation which comes across them. The crime of domestic abuse against children is typically committed by someone who is known to the child that person can be their parent or the perpetrator could be a member of the family. 

  1. Domestic violence against children is every so often termed as violent discipline which implies that when any of the parent(s) or guardian(s) or relative(s) of a child uses battery as force to compel the child to get them to do what they desire then that practice of abuse is called violent discipline.

Nature of domestic violence on children

The biggest victims of domestic violence are women but there is little or no relevant information available on the issue of domestic violence against children. This indicates the lack of awareness among people regarding the grievous repercussions of such violence against children. Therefore it is indispensible for all the governments of the world to enact stringent laws against the practices of child abuse.

Children around the globe are exposed to two types of domestic violence. The first is Corporal Punishment, in this situation the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child use the forces of physical nature to compel their child to act in accordance to their set of rules. The examples of corporal punishment include slapping, thrashing, and belting. Corporal punishments are induced against children when they oppose or resist any instructions which are directed towards them from their parents or guardians. This includes compelling a child to ingest a food or forcing them into certain activity.

The other form of domestic violence which is practiced upon children is Psychological Violence, in this situation the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child are involved in the usage of force which makes an impact on the mind or conscience of the child. This involves building a sense of fear or intimidation within the child not by the use of physical force but with the help of verbal communication like aggression, threats, guilt, manipulating the emotions of the child, withdrawal of love towards the child etc. The aforementioned forms of domestic violence leaves behind lifelong effects upon the child, therefore the victims of this violence are at more risk of getting exposed to the situation of child abuse as compared to the children who did not face such violence in their respective lives.

The statistics in the chart below, shows the percentage of children around the globe from the age of 2 to 14, who were exposed to domestic violence or abuse.

The above graphic depicts that the frequency of domestic violence against children or young people is slightly less in the countries which are more developed as compared to the other countries. But contrary to this data, in all nations there is a very small section of children who do not go through with this trauma.

The parents’ perception regarding the issue of domestic violence is the reason why this phenomenon is a growing concern all around the globe. An extensive study on the perception of the parents is not available as no institution has gone through with it. But a study on the perception of parent towards this issue was conducted by an institute named General Social Survey within the region of U.S.A. and the gathered data depicted that the parents of every economic class had the perception that a thrashing is necessary for the child as it is helpful for maintaining discipline. The survey conducted by the General Social Service (GSS) shows that almost two-thirds of the American parents were either involved in the activity of practicing domestic violence against children in the name of discipline or they were in favor of this practice. This study also highlighted that nowadays parents are more accustomed to the practice of exhibiting violent behavior towards their children.

Repercussions of domestic violence against children

Children face violence not only at their home but at various other places like at their school, at home of their guardian or in the case of orphans; children face domestic violence at their foster homes. Children who are forced into child labor are also the victims of this malpractice by the hands of their employer or anyone from work.

Several surveys and data collected from the research on this issue depict the wide range of consequences a child has to face who goes through this trauma. The consequences of this violence vary in each gender. The study shows that boys who are exposed to domestic violence are vulnerable to becoming more aggressive or violent as compared to the boys who did not go through with this domestic violence. In case of the other gender, girls who are exposed to domestic violence are more likely to accept violence at later stages of their lives, like getting accustomed to violence by the hands of their future spouse, employer, etc.

Domestic violence not only causes physical harm to a child but it also leaves a mark upon their mental health as well. Children who are exposed to this phenomenon are more likely to get depressed, become anxious, anti-social and live their lives in fear. Children who experience violence against them are also likely to get involved into various criminal activities as they feel left out from the love and care of their parents, hence they are drawn towards these activities because of their easily perusable mind. Children face violence at their school either in the form of bullying or they are exposed to violence by the hands of the school employees, these children tend to drop out of their school and give up their education because they are unable to cope up with this situation. The worst possible outcome of this violence against children is that many children get to the point where they end up taking their own lives.

Domestic violence hampers the overall development of the child as they are more concerned with the issue of coping up with this trauma rather than focusing on their education or developing a new skill which can improve their chances of becoming a competent professional in their respective field of interest. Therefore, it is important on the part of everyone who has an influence over a child in this tender to protect them from getting exposed to this domestic violence.

India’s stand upon the issue

The legislature of the State has enacted various Acts which are concerned with the issue of violence against children. But no law has been passed in the country which is explicitly enacted for the purpose of granting protection for children against domestic violence. Other Acts which provide protection for children from other malpractices of the society are –

  1. Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

The act provides protection to the rights for the children whose rights and privileges are infringed. This is the fundamental law which is enacted in India for the purpose of providing protection for the children against such practices.

  1. Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, 2012

This code of law provides protection to the children who faced sexual assaults or harassment by anyone. This law prescribes rigorous punishment to the people who are responsible for infringing the rights of the victim.

  1. Indian Penal Code section 373

This section states that whoever is involved in the activity of buying, hiring or has any sort of possession of any minor girl for the purpose of prostitution. Such person shall be liable for fine and an imprisonment which can extend upto a period of ten years.

  1. Indian Penal Code section 376AB

This section states that any person, who is guilty of committing rape against a female under the age of twelve years of age, must be liable for a fine and life imprisonment while the maximum punishment in such cases can result in death penalty for the culprit.

  1. Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018

This amendment bought several changes in the laws regarding the protection of children in India. The bill mentions that in the case of rape of a girl child, investigation regarding such act must be completed within a period of two months. These cases must be tried in the fast track courts and such trial shall be disposed of within a period of six months. While in the case of rape of children between the age of twelve and sixteen, the culprit shall be punished with the minimum imprisonment of twenty years which can rise to the extent of life imprisonment, and in the case of gang rape of the child belonging to the aforementioned age group, the culprit shall be punished with life imprisonment.

Furthermore in the case of rape of the girls aged between sixteen and eighteen, the culprit shall be liable for the minimum imprisonment of ten years which can extend to life imprisonment or death. However, the bill has not proposed any amendments in the matters of rape of a male child; the punishment for the culprits in such cases remains the same as earlier. This bill has proposed various amendments which have created a massive difference in the quantum of punishment directed towards the concerned convicts.

The constitution of India also safeguards several rights of the children regarding their education, freedom of speech, religious practices, dignity of life, etc.

But no exclusive legislation has been enacted in this nation which safeguards the children of this country from domestic violence against them. Hence it is indispensable on the part of the legislation of the state to come up with stringent laws which provides protection for the children who are dealing with trauma.

Solutions for terminating child abuse

Domestic violence against children can happen in any family irrespective of their income, religious beliefs, caste, color, creed etc., the prevalence of such abuse in high in the following environment –

  1. Parents who belong to a young age group tend to practice more violence upon their children as compared with the parents belonging to an older age group.
  1. Parents, who are not educated or aware, tend to get more involved in this kind of abuse.
  2. Children raised in poor families are often exposed to domestic violence.
  3. Domestic violence against children also prevails in a family where parents themselves are involved in committing violence against each other.
  1. Children face violence in a family which has a long history of practicing such violence.
  2. Parents or guardian with drug or alcohol abuse are more likely to be aggressive towards their children.
  1. Parents who are suffering from any mental or physical trauma may also practice violence against their children.

According to various extensive researches and studies, child abuse or domestic violence against children can be countered by the taking into account the following methods –

  1. It is the duty of every parent or guardian to be empathetic towards their child, try to learn and understand their frame of mind.
  1. Denying the basic needs of the childlike food, sleep, care etc also amounts to violence or abuse as it may cause mental trauma to the child.
  1. When children are prone to drug or alcohol, it is better to get help from various NGOs or institutions which are working in order to overcome such issues from prevailing in the society.
  1. Parents shall restrain themselves from using any obnoxious language or expressions.
  2. Children should be disciplined by their parents in a fair, just, and reasonable manner.
  3. Spouses who are about become parents may attend seminars or programs which creates awareness among new parents regarding these issues.

Conclusion

Domestic violence or child abuse has overshadowed many issues which are prevailing in the society. This issue becomes far more dreadful in the country like India where the legislation has not yet enacted any Act which explicitly addresses the issue of domestic violence against children. Therefore, the children of this country suffer from such malpractices as there are no stringent laws which can protect them from the perpetrators of such activities.

References

  • https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/what-is-domestic-abuse
  • https://www.unicef.org/sowc07/docs/sowc07_panel_2_1.pdf
  • https://ourworldindata.org/violence-against-rights-for-children
  • https://www.ukessays.com/essays/social-work/domestic-violence-impact-on-children-physical-education-essays.php
  • https://www.savethechildren.in/resource-centre/articles/a-brief-on-child-protection-policies-in-india
  • https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=1565

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