First-of-its-kind ‘SAFE Child Protection Toolkit’ emphasizes the urgency of improving child protection
In a state like Rajasthan, where the rates of child labor are steadily increasing and the government expenditure on children and quality education is inadequate, the rights of children and adolescents becomes prime concern.
To address the urgent challenges faced by children and adolescents living in Rajasthan, a conference - “Children and Adolescents in Rajasthan – A Critical Rights Agenda” was organised on August 8, 2013 by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University and the Public Health Foundation of India’s Academic arm – Indian Institute of Public Health, Delhi and FXB India Suraksha. Civil society organizations, academics, and government representatives also joined hands to discuss barriers in implementation of schemes focused on adolescent and child rights, as well as scaling up best practices that have effectively addressed the needs of vulnerable children in Rajasthan.
Panelist (from left to right- Aruna Bhattacharya, Associate professor, Indian Institute of Public Health- Delhi, PHFI. Mamta Borgoyary, CEO, FXB India Suraksha. Arathi Ravichandran, Project Coordinator, SAFE Child Protection Initiative, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University) welcoming the conference participants
"Kids that have been trafficked and brought from different states by trains and runaway children that seek food and shelter at the railway station are the two most vulnerable section on the railway station", said Govind Beniwal, Member Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. The conference highlighted primary findings from the SAFE Child Protection study conducted among such children at the Jaipur Railway Station. The SAFE Model for child protection is a rights-based holistic framework for examining four fundamental and interrelated domains of child and adolescent rights and security – Safety and protection from harm; Access to health care and basic physiologic needs; Family and connection to others; and Education and economic security. The SAFE model has been used to inform the development of a set of evaluation tools, the SAFE Checklist – jointly developed by PHFI and FXB Center, and the SAFE Child Impact assessment. The SAFE Child Protection toolkit is thus utilized to evaluate major threats to the health and well-being for children and families living and/or working at the Railway Station.
Throwing the light on the grim issue and stressing the fact that the State of Rajasthan and India needs to ensure that its rapid economic development is equitable and sustainable for all citizens, Ms Mamta Borgoyary, CEO, FXB Suraksha India commented “The conference aims to further the child and adolescent rights agenda in India by bringing attention to both the successes and failures in the field with the belief that enhanced political leadership, improved access to quality services, and increased investment in protection are paramount to creating healthy environments for children and adolescents to thrive.”
Bringing to the forefront the goal to place the protection of child and adolescent rights on academic and policy agendas in the state as well as in India, in her address Dr Aruna Bhattacharya, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Public Health, Delhi said, “Child and adolescent rights agenda in India when pursued strategically can lead to positive change and tangible results that create healthy environments for children and adolescents to thrive.”
The conference concluded with some short term and long term recommendations targeted at improving and coordinated cross sectoral planning, enhanced awareness and sensitisation of government departments including the police and better monitoring systems in place so as to enable the street children in becoming healthy, active, and socially engaged citizens.