Guwahati: While cyber-bulling and corporal punishment are major issues, about 33 percent youths of Assam are ‘unaware’ of the process of registration of reports.
The U-Report poll was launched on July 18 by Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, Governor of Assam, and it was aimed to support the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ (ASCPCR) to raise public awareness on the forms of violence against children and redressal mechanism.
The U-Report poll was on cyber-bullying and corporal punishment, and was taken by close to 9,500 volunteers from 24 universities and education institutions in Assam.
As part of the poll, 35 per cent shared experiencing corporal punishment at home, 25 per cent at school and 14 per cent at other spaces such as private tuitions and on sports grounds. And about 26 per cent experienced it in all three settings.
The most common form of punishment was being hit or slapped on the hand, arm or leg (67 per cent), while 16 per cent followed with being shouted, screamed or yelled at.
Close to 60 per cent of the youths said it impacted their social relationships, for 24 per cent it led to stress, anxiety and fear, and 17 per cent reported physical injury.
Half of the young people reported being bullied online by an unknown person, 12 per cent were bullied by a classmate and 14 per cent by a friend. Thirty-six per cent identified Facebook as the most common platform for being bullied, followed by Instagram at 25 per cent.
The most common form of bullying was spreading of lies, embarrassing photos or videos on social media (35 per cent). Physical appearance was the most common reason for being bullied online.
“Given the Government of Assam’s impetus on creating a conducive environment for young people to grow and thrive, UNICEF Assam has been working with young people in Assam, especially those from the most vulnerable communities. Between 2020-2021, our focus was to understand how COVID-19 had impacted their lives,” Madhulika Jonathan, chief of UNICEF Assam, said.
In 2020-21, the Directorate of NSS for the Northeast Region and UNICEF Assam joined hands to work on the issue of child protection in all eight states as a mandate part of a national partnership between the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and UNICEF India.
Through a series of online workshops to understand the impact of COVID-19 on young people that were facilitated with civil society partner, We Are Young (WAY) Foundation, NSS volunteers pointed at corporal punishment and cyber bullying as two critical issues.
At present, 19 per cent of Assam’s 3.1 crore population (Census 2011) is in the 15-24 years age group.
“The NSS cohort was an appropriate sample group to understand the issues of young people in the state,” Deepak Kumar, director for the Northeast Region of NSS, said.
Incidentally, 68 per cent of the volunteers expressed awareness of redressal mechanisms, of which 57 per cent recognized Assam Police as the most popular support system available.
Of them, only 18 per cent were aware of 1098, 11 per cent about the cyber cell, and 1 per cent about the Special Juvenile Police Unit.
According to 19 per cent of the young people, the redressal mechanisms were not easy at the time of reporting an incident, and 24 per cent expressed a lack of acknowledgement and discussion around these issues in schools, colleges and at home, due to the fear of social stigma.
About 60 per cent opined a critical role for parents to work with education institutions to create a safe protective environment to end this form of violence.
UNICEF India’s strategy to address violence against children effectively, entails cutting across multiple sectors – in particular, education, health, social justice and empowerment.
Along with the young people of Assam, UNICEF aims to call for the attention of the chief minister of Assam to:
- CONSTITUTE a committee of young people part of NSS, NCC and NYKS to advise the Chief Minister’s Office on their issues on a bi-annual basis
- MASS CAMPAIGN to increase knowledge levels of the public on the forms of violence and redressal mechanisms
- TABLE Corporal Punishment Bill in the Assam Assembly for discussion
- EVIDENCE generation on issues of violence against children in the state
UNICEF is celebrating World Children’s Day on November 20, which is the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
As part of its mandate to protect and promote children’s rights, UNICEF Assam along with NSS volunteers from Assam has presented the outcomes of the U-Report poll to different stakeholders in the Government and media.
To support the day, a number of iconic buildings in Assam will be illuminated blue on November 19 and 20, symbolically standing in solidarity of children’s rights. These include the
Northbrook Gate, Brahmaputra Heritage Centre, Assam Police Headquarters, Last Gate among others.