CHILD Protection & Child Rights » IV. National Mechanisms » Child Related Policies » National Plan of Action 2005
The National Plan of Action for Children, 2005 is by far the most comprehensive planning document concerning children. Its value is that it clearly outlines goals, objectives, and strategies to achieve the objectives outlined and recognises the needs of all children up to the age of eighteen. It is divided into four basic child right categories as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child: Child survival, Child development, Child protection and Child participation.
Child Survival firstly refers to child health. The plan outlines goals to reduce children's risk of contracting malaria, TB, and cholera, exposure to HIV/AIDS, and provide them with full immunisation, access to quality health care, water, food and sanitation. The goal is also to reduce the poor health indicators in IMR, CMR and NMR. In order to do this services need to provide mothers with adequate pre-natal medical attention and nutrition, encourage safe birth practises, encourage breast feeding as essential to having healthy babies, cover all children and women within the reproductive age with necessary immunisations, ensure proper coverage of all families under the ICDS scheme, educate communities about proper infant care, universalise use of oral rehydration solution to prevent dehydration in children, make efforts to detect and treat all diseases such as malaria and Dengue, take steps to prevent mother-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and provide children with the necessary care and medication to fight the infection, etc.
The second aspect of child survival is maternal health. In order to insure the healthy growth and delivery of children it is vital to look at the health of the mothers. The plan outlines initiatives to improve anaemia in mothers and girls, generate awareness about maternal health practices and child spacing, prevent and treat sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and ensure the health centres are full equipped to handle the needs of mothers and offer appropriate referrals.
The third aspect of child survival is nutrition. The plan aims at reaching optimal infant and child nutrition by promoting breast feeding and prohibiting milk substitutes for infants, conducting constant screening of children to ensure they are not underweight, empower families with information about child nutrition, provide anganwadi workers with training to address basic child diseases such as diarrhoea, make low cost complementary food products, etc. It is also important to address anaemia and vitamin A deficiency, address macro and micro malnutrition through ICDS, Mid-day Meal, Public distribution systems and such programmes. Lastly a vital aspect to child survival is access to clear water and sanitation. Special attention is required for girl population and their access to drinking water, toilets, in rural areas and urban slums. In order to provide enough water for all there is need to begin water conversation practises such as rain water harvesting, reclining and reusing of water.
Child Development begins with early childhood care and education. This section discusses the expansion of ICDS so it's available to all, development of pre-school centers and cr�ches, promoting community based initiatives, and creating awareness regarding birth registration and good parenting skills. The next section aims at equality and special opportunities for the girl child, survival, development and protection, elimination of sex selection and child marriage, protection against sexual and non-sexual abuse, protection from neglect, break down gender stereotypes and increase access to education facilities. Some of the strategies outlined in the plan for the girl child are advocacy through social, political and religious leaders and well as the government, proper enforcement of laws, support of non-government organizations and initiatives, monitor clinics to ensure that diagnostic tests are not being run illegally, etc.
The next section in child development discusses the needs of adolescents (children ages 13-18). The primary concerns with adolescents is child marriage, STDs, higher education curriculum, protection from exploitation, and providing adolescents with rehabilitation and support programmes so that they grown into responsible and aware citizens. This age group especially required support and counseling services. The next aspect of development is regarding children with disabilities. The plans aims are reducing the risk of living with a disability by taking preventive measure during pregnancy and right after birth, providing these children with the current facilities that will ensure their mental and physical development, and help children with disabilities the right to participate fully in society. To accomplish this state needs to strengthen programmes like ICDS, help children procure physical aids and learning material, make public building and transportation disabled friendly, etc.
Children's lives like all other human being are connected to the environment. In order to safeguard natural resources for our children the plan outlines the need to create recreational spaces for children, prevent toxic and harmful effects on the natural environment, use sustainable forms of production and energy, encourage children's understanding of their own surroundings, and take states to ensure better sanitation and hygiene in communities, etc. Lastly one of the most important aspects of child development is education. The plan discusses the importance of increasing access to public education to children with disabilities, girls, and children living in remote areas, improving infrastructure of schools, improving the quality of education, providing teachers with the correct training, reducing school drop-outs, supporting marginalised groups of society such as SC/STs/OBCs, establish counselling services in school, proving children with healthy mid-day meals,
The chapter on Child Protection discusses six main groups: children in difficult circumstances, children in conflict with law, sexual exploitation and child pornography, child trafficking, combating child labour and children affected by HIV/AIDS. Children in difficult circumstances require protection from exploitation, abuse and neglect. The aim is to protect vulnerable groups by providing them with the proper facilities and services according to their needs. While keeping the best interest of the child in mind the services should heave reunite families, rehabilitate and reintegrate children into society and then provide for special needs of children with disabilities, homeless children, street children, destitute and orphan children, etc.
Children in conflict with law have rights not to be prosecuted as adults and hence it is the duty of the government to ensure those rights and provide for the child while he/she is under their care. This can be done by studying the crimes children commit and reasons, implementing the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, ensuring children are involved in their own legal proceedings, etc. The protection of children against sexual exploitation and child pornography requires the making of a law that persecute abusers, let up centres equipped to deal with victims, create awareness, set up information systems to investigate possible abuse, etc.
To protect children from trafficking the government needs to address root causes of vulnerability, sensitize police, medical facilities and media about the issue, create mechanisms to track, investigate and prevent trafficking, etc. To protect child labourers it is first important to understand the number of working children in India through the census survey, strengthen formal school systems, properly implement child labour laws, etc. To protect children affected by HIV/AIDs it is important to prevent mother child transmission of the disease, and provide children who are affected with the correct medicines, proper counselling, and include STDs and sexual education in school curriculum.
Lastly the Child Participation section discusses the need for awareness about child rights, and making sure children have the appropriate channels to voice their needs and concerns about their own services. Children have the right to information about themselves and society that concerns them so that they may make informed decisions; this is specially required for children in difficult circumstances. The last section of the plan outlined the need for proper child budgeting taking into consideration actual population of children, and proper implementation and monitoring of the plan and any programmes that concern children.