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Juvenile Justice Consultation: Children affected by pandemic need special care, says Justice Ravindra Bhat

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Children affected by the Covid pandemic need support and special care, said Supreme Court Judge and Chairperson of the Supreme Court Juvenile Justice Committee Justice S. Ravindra Bhat.

Speaking at an event organised by the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Supreme Court on National Consultations for the Protection of Children and to take stock of the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Prevention of Sexual Offences Act, Justice Bhat added that issues like mental health impact on sexually abused children and rehabilitation of children in conflict with the law require urgent attention as well.

He said: “There is the need to sustainably continue supporting and monitoring the needs of children affected by the pandemic and to put in place measures, that can withstand and mitigate such impact in the future.”

He stressed the need to develop infrastructure and systems that support such children long after the legal proceedings.

Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, presented the number of children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Kanoongo reaffirmed that the Commission would continue to strengthen data collection and assessments of the situation of children to understand how children who lost parents during the pandemic have access to child care, protection and other social welfare services and also to provide support to all such children.

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Soledad Herrero, chief of Child Protection at UNICEF India, said that every crisis comes with opportunities, and this pandemic has brought three opportunities. He said: “First, the opportunity for a paradigm shift to build child protection systems that put family at the centre and prevent institutionalization, especially due to poverty. Second, the opportunity to promote alternatives to detention and diversion from formal criminal proceedings for children in conflict with the law in cases of minor offences. Third, the opportunity to bring visibility to mental health issues, an area underreported and neglected until now.”

The review meeting was also attended by the Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, senior officials of Departments of Women and Child Development/Social Welfare Departments from State/UTs and UNICEF India representatives.

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