Better support to children in distress

State govt. proposes integrated Bal Raksha Bhavans

The State government is contemplating on setting up Bal Raksha Bhavans as one stop centres for protection and empowerment of children who are in vulnerable situations.

The concept is on the lines of Sakhi Centres that have been giving all kinds of assistance to women in distress. While Sakhi Centres are funded by the Centre, Bal Raksha Bhavans would be the initiative of the State government.

As the cases of exploitation and abuse of children are on the rise, the Department of Women and Child Development and Disabled Welfare has proposed to bring all the institutions and agencies working for the well-being and empowerment of children would function from one integrated complex.

The Bal Raksha Bhavans are expected to evolve like a Child Welfare Secretariat as various wings are involved in the protection and welfare of children.

There are several scenarios that put children in a vulnerable situation – abandonment, online abuse, trafficking, child labour and migration.

There are government and non-government organisations such as child helpline with its own field-level outreach staff, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for education, child care institutions that are registered with the government, special juvenile police units, juvenile justice boards, and child-friendly courts that help children who are in a desperate state.

Child protection units

The State has district-wise children protection units and their responsibilities include registration of POSCO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) cases, curb child marriages, and save children who are abandoned and those addicted to drugs. They also monitor children in the registered child care institutions.

All the agencies that work for children, if located in one complex or a building, would be convenient for coordination.

Meanwhile, the department would take up Poshan Abhiyan campaign from September 1 to 30 with an objective to create awareness on the importance of nutrition in the overall management of health to reduce malnutrition, stunted growth, low birth weights, and antenatal check-up for women.

The Poshan Abhiyan campaign is taken up through community participation and Gram Sabhas and it has programmes like mass baby showers (seemantham), annaprasana (giving cooked rice to infants for the first time), promoting breast feeding from the first hour of child’s birth, measures to check diarrhoea and other diseases.

The campaign is linked to Special Action Plan launched by the government from September 6 in every village and town to improve sanitation and hygiene and promote kitchen gardens as part of Haritha Haaram.

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