ICPS aims at building a protective environment for children

"Child protection is a way of ensuring that children, under-privileged children in particular, are brought under a safety net umbrella. It is a system under which the most unwanted child is ensured the warmth of security, and full enjoyment of the basic rights," said Ratna Saxena, Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) consultant, UNICEF. Read more

Ms Saxena, was addressing media persons at the bi-monthly media sensitization programme on children's issue at "Media for children" jointly hosted at UP Press Club by "Media Nest" and UNICEF.

Explaining Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in detail she informed that it is a centrally sponsored scheme of the Government of India which aims at building a protective environment for children and guarantees against child abuse, exploitation, violence and deprivation of primary care. While the programme is running in 15 states, Uttar Pradesh (UP), where in live the largest number of the country's children is yet to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU). ICPS which came into force in 2009 capsules a number of government schemes on child protection.

"From ensuring total and lasting child protection the government and civil society must join hands," said Ms Saxena, adding that of course things will start rolling once the first and most vital step of the state government signing the MoU is completed.

The second step will be to ensure that other mandatory structures like-setting up committees, database, building capacity of families, communities and NGOs who will help carry forward the scheme.

She emphasized that media role is very important in the successful implementation of ICPS.

She played video clips of the beautiful song where India's top singers lend their voice to focusing attention on child rights. The song which called for ensuring that the children get all the rights to live said that we must not forget that these children are the future of our country.

Mr Rajib Ghoshal, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF, said that creating protection homes for children should be the last priority of the government. The emphasis should be to foster care for poor, unwanted children. He said in order that for society and community may take on this additional responsibility willingly both social as well as economic incentive must be made the pre-requisite.

He quoted the scheme is running well through Palanhaar of Rajasthan.

As per the 2001 census, the population of children (below 18 years) was 42.2 crores (422 million) out of which around 17 crores (170 million), i.e. 40% of the children, are vulnerable or experiencing difficult circumstances.

The protective environment also focuses on children deprived of primary caregivers, particularly in the context of a) children who are in formal care institutions; b) children deprived of their liberty; c) separated children; d) abandoned children; e) children living in the streets; and f) orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC).

Earlier Mr Augustine Veliath, Communication Specialist, UNICEF, in his opening remarks asked a very vital question. He said many a time children are left behind alone with no fault of theirs like children of locked-up parents, sex workers, orphans. "Where do we take children who have nobody?"

He said that while the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) aims at the development of the child, it also ensures the total protection to a child left alone to face the world.

"For the success of the scheme that ensures every child its right through society and government it is important that media asks the right question on a ICPS," said Mr Augustine.

Kulsum Mustafa - CNS
(The author is a senior journalist and also serves as the Secretary-General of Media Nest)