This article is written by Gracy Singh, a 2nd-year law student from Mody University of Science and Technology, Lakshmangarh, Rajasthan. This article discusses about Child Abuse causes, its types and the policies, acts, and amendments to prevent it.


‘The true character of a society is revealed in how it treats its children.’ – Nelson Mandela

 Violence against children is a harsh reality for millions of children from all socio-economic groups of the country. They face domestic abuse, trafficking, bullying, child labour, sexual violence, and these violence leave a long-lasting effect on their lives. The nation has provided its children with rights to ensure their safety, care, and development. Various reforms and acts had been made by the government to improve the condition of children and to uplift their standard of living. Regardless of the numerous legislative policies condition has not changed much over time. Child Abuse is one of the major problems in India. The root cause is mostly found in the areas with illiteracy and weaker sections of society.[1]

Meaning of Child Abuse

Child abuse refers to maltreatment of a child by a parent or guardian, including neglect, sexual molestation, or physical harm that leads to severe threats to the life and development of the child. It is not easy to find if a child is being abused. Children who are abused or maltreated do not inform anyone due to fear of getting blamed or that nobody will believe them. Child abuse can happen at home, schools, foster care institutions, playgrounds, and through social networking sites as well. This leaves a huge negative impact on children and it hampers their development.

Causes of Child Abuse

There can be many causes of child abuse; some of the causes are isolation and lack of family support, parenting skills, the pressure of caring for a child, financial stress,  mental illness or disability, addiction to drugs, alcohol, and gambling can also affect the ability to fulfil child’s need. Parents who experienced maltreatment in childhood also tend to abuse their children.[2]

Kinds of Child Abuse

Few types of Child Abuse are[3]:

  1. Physical Abuse – Hurting child’s body, hitting hard with hands, belt, an object that leaves bruises, cuts, or any other injury causing pain. Example – Shaking, pushing, punching, and kicking.
  2. Emotional Abuse – When a child is being threatened, bullied, not allowed to express his views, preventing from taking part in normal social interaction, telling them they are worthless or withholding affection. This can cause serious damage to a child’s emotional development.
  3. Physical Neglect – When a child is not provided necessary basic needs of food, shelter or clothing, etc. 
  4. Emotional and Psychological Neglect – Continuous lack of positive attention, love, warmth, and security.
  5. Sexual Abuse – Acts where a child is used by an adult for a sexual purpose. It can be sexual contacts such as sexual acts or non-contact sexual activities such as taking or sharing sexual photos and talks.  In most cases, the abuser is a known or trusted person.

Signs of Child Abuse

  • Fearful behaviour
  • Inexplicable/ undefined bruises, cuts, abdominal pain, bed-wetting
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Inappropriate age behaviour
  • Extremely passive or aggressive behaviour
  • Big appetite and stealing food
  • Attempts to run
  • Genital pain, bleeding or discharge

Effects of Child Abuse

Child Abuse may have long-term consequences. Children may develop a wide range of reactions especially when a child is abused for a longer period. They suffer more psychologically than physically. A child who is abused or maltreated can become depressed and develop suicidal thoughts, or show withdrawn violent behavior. They overlook the tools needed to control stress, learning new skills to become resilient, strong, and successful. As they get older, they get addicted to drugs or alcohol and may develop marital or sexual difficulties. [4]

Relevant Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution of India imposes the responsibility on the state to promote the welfare of children and to ensure their dignity and sustainability.

  1. Article 14: It ensures every citizen is treated equally before the law.
  2. Article 15: Prohibits the discrimination on the grounds of gender, place of birth, religion, caste. Article 15 (3) give power to the state to make special provisions for women and children.
  3. Article 19 (1) (a): Provides the right to freedom of speech and expression to every citizen.
  4. Article 21A: Free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years shall be provided by the State.
  5. Article 23: Prohibits human trafficking and forced labour.
  6. Article 24: Prohibition of Child Labour and employment of children below 14 years in any other hazardous work.
  7. Article 39 (e): The State is empowered to ensure the health and strength of workers, men and women and the tender age of children are not abused or maltreated.
  8. Article 39 (f): The State shall ensure that children are given opportunities, facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom, dignity and be protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.
  9. Article 45: The State shall provide early childhood care and education to all children until they complete the age of six years.
  10. Article 51A-(k): Every parent or guardian must provide opportunities for education to his child between the age of six and fourteen years.[5]

Policies and Programmes

To ensure the welfare of children government implemented various policies and programmes such as:

  1. National Policy for Children, 1974: It is the first child centric programme launched by the government of India for all-round development, care and protection of children. It recognizes children and ensures that their rights, as enshrined in the constitution and the UN Declaration of Rights, are implemented.
  2. National Policy on Education, 1986: It led emphasis on equality in the sphere of educational opportunity. It involved a child-centred approach in primary education.
  3. National Policy on Child Labour, 1987: The government brought this policy to strictly implement the constitutional provisions to prohibit Child Labour and works towards the betterment of the conditions of working children.
  4. National Charter for Children, 2003: This comprehensive document empowers children with the right of being a child and enjoying their childhood to their fullest.  It secures the right to proper education and other facilities that would lead them to become a good and productive citizen of the nation. For the growth of every child, it enjoins the State, the society, the community and the families to develop a healthy, safe and positive environment in the country.
  5. National Plan of Action for Children, 2005: It aims to solve the various problems of a child’s life. It is engaged in the prohibition of child marriage, abolition of female foeticide, female infanticide and securing the rights of children in situations of abuse, exploitation and neglect.
  6. National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development: It is the organisation for documentation and compilation of research and initiative related to women and child development. It works in the areas of awareness against abuse and exploitation, rights of the children, child care support and development.

The Twelfth Five Year Plan, 2012 mainly focused on child development. It was a major step taken by the government towards increasing the status and condition of children especially the female child. In case of emergency, to help children child-line services have been launched. It is run by Childline India Foundation, the mother organization for this scheme in the country.[6]

Acts and Amendments

The government has enacted several laws to establish institutions and norms to enhance the rights of the children.

  1. Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 – This act led to the establishment of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in the year 2007. NCPCR is a statutory body working under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. It is preserving the rights of children, spreading awareness against child abuse, and provides children with proper redressal and rehabilitation in case of violation of their rights.
  2. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012 – It was enacted to deal with cases of child abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment and other related offences. The POCSO cell has been set up to monitor the implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012 by the NCPCR. This act also provides for the establishment of a special court focusing on the needs and interests of the children at paramount importance.[7]


Child Abuse is a grave issue that has long-term effects on the victim. Government should take significant reforms and in the prevention of existing legal and social apparatus as well as emphasize on improving the mental and emotional condition of children who are maltreated or abused. The economic conditions of the families should be strengthened as poverty is one of the major causes of child abuse. Sexual education should be provided in the schools and install grievance redressal system in schools and colleges such as complaint and suggestion boxes for a speedy solution to the issues of children. Student clubs should be established by the government and private schools to spread awareness against child abuse and policies of the government. Police and administrative bodies should be easily accessible to children and workshops should be conducted for children at the local levels. Institutes such as NCPCR should improve their reach and work on the implementation of policies on the ground level. The children must be educated about Child Protection schemes and ChildLine Services. The laws should be strengthened and implemented effectively.


Child abuse not only harms the child’s productivity but also detriment the process of socialization of the child. All the children have the right to live with dignity and in a safe environment. This could be achieved by creating awareness of their rights, especially their right to protection, enacting and implementing laws to punish the abuser. Therefore, it is required that society take steps to protect and enhance their childhood. This would allow greater participation in the process of innovation and evolution.


  1. Amisha U. Pathak, Child Abuse in India – An Analysis.
  2. Child Abuse and Neglect,
  3. Child Protection Law and Policy: India,
  4. Child Protection, UNICEF India,
  5. Provision related to children in “Constitution of India”,
  6. Understanding Child Abuse and Importance of Child Protection
  7. What causes child abuse,\.

  1. [1]Amisha U. Pathak, Child Abuse in India An Analysis.
  1. [2]What causes child abuse,\.
  1. [3] What is child abuse? – Citizens Advice
  1. [4]Child Abuse and Neglect
  1. [5]Provision related to children in “Constitution of India”,
  1. [6]Amisha U. Pathak, Child Abuse in India An Analysis .
  1. [7]Child Protection Law and Policy: India

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