Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crimes against children - an unpopular view - the responsibility of the guardian?

All of Delhi and most of India is still getting over the barbaric rape and mutilation of a 5 year old child.

And over the last week, i have been thinking.. asking... what leads to crimes like this? Criminal depravity, for sure, but that has been around forever. Other than blaming the police and asking the government to do something, what else can we do?

And here is the distilled thought:
The primary responsibility for the physical security and emotional well being of a child, rests with the parent or guardian of the child. When we bring a child into the world, it is assumed that we are ready and capable of shouldering that responsibility for as many years as it takes for the child to be self reliant.

In some cases, parents do not have the resources or the inclination to watch over the children. Self reliance is therefore thrust upon these children, whether or not they are ready. My maid leaves her 4 year old and 2 year old daughters "in the colony" when she comes to work. Thats over 4 hours of no parental supervision.

To me, thats criminal neglect of the child.

In India, the law places no obligation on the parent or the guardian. In most of Europe and the US, the children will be taken away from you if you do not take care of them.

But here, we listen to the parents scream in pain when a child is a victim of horror. But we dont turn around and ask them - was your child protected enough? Were you there to watch over the child? Did you make sure that the child was physically safe and in an emotionally non threatening environment?

No. We let the parents abuse and neglect their children. We place no blame or responsibility on the guardian. And we are quick to blame the police. Or better still, the government.


Raajii said...

I think there is a limit to blaming the parents for something this unusual. Even in the U.S., they don't do that. Parents already have a tremendous burden of taking care of the child and if we start holding them responsible for stuff like this then we are using them as scapegoats for the corruption that exists in India. The criminals will go free while we run around blaming the parents who had little control over this particular situation.

Mridula Harshvardhan said...

Point to hai....


Indrani said...

Yes you do have a point.
Basic infrastructure is missing. Unemployment and lawlessness... these two issues need to tackled on priority basis.

Pooja Sharma Rao said...

You are right but for most of these parents the choice is between keeping them fed and alive or keeping them safe,difficult choice.

How do we know said...

Hi Raaji: nooooo. i m not blaming the parents for the crime. i m saying that most parents in India abuse or criminally neglect their children. Which makes these children more vulnerable to crime. the 2 are not mutually exclusive. the criminal commits the crime, society prepares it. i think that was Voltaire.

Hi naaz: thank you.

Hi Indrani: basic common sense is also missing. really. i want to do a news series on the fact that when we look at poverty - we only see a "single story" - that of helplessness. the stories we dont speak about - are stories of what behavior patterns are repeated among the poor so that they remain poor. and someone needs to work on that too. its not a single story.

hi Pooja: there is a third option - family planning. bringing children into the world when u r ready for them. having one child and ensuring that this child has access to schooling and solid parenting. plese see my response to Indrani above.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you! Yes, parents should be more responsible. We as their guardians have to do everything to keep our little ones safe.


Anonymous said...

I agree parents are neglecting and becoming unaware of threat to their wards.There should be more stringent laws for this.

Z said...

How terrible, and what a dilemma for a couple who are responsible but poor, have not parents to care for a child but long for one - and also hope to be looked after in their old age.

Frog-in-the-Well said...

So the maid comes to look after our children, at the cost of neglecting their own.. aren't we the bigger criminal ??