The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (Goa SCPCR) had a joint review meeting with stakeholders on March 15, 2023, at the Conference Hall, Secretariat, on the status of village and municipal child protection committees.
The meeting, chaired by Peter F Borges, Chairperson of Goa SCPCR, focused on strengthening the child protection system in urban and village bodies.
The meeting was attended by block development officers of all talukas, and the chief officer of municipal councils and commissioner of the corporation of the city of Panjim, besides members of GSCPCR and the director of the Women and Child Development and Child Welfare Committee.
The following is the status of village/municipal child protection committees as per updates received from block development officers/municipal councils.
The chairperson in his opening remarks said that there is a need to bring about strong child protection at a grassroots level amidst the surge in crimes against children in Goa. We must strengthen community-led child protection and ensure a safe childhood for our children.
The children’s participation is important and will help the gram panchayats’ work in the protection of child rights, and address their issues through participatory planning and proper budgeting.
He further said that the formation of child committees is an important step towards highlighting and finding solutions to the issues of children at the local level.
Children are individuals in their own right. They may not have the life experiences of adults, but they have their own experiences, and they need to enter decision-making processes with their own set of experiences.
Children have a right to participate in all decisions that concern their lives and should be given the opportunity to become capable decision-makers.
The following recommendations are issued for strict compliance in the interest of children:
Wherever not constituted, the committees should be constituted and notified within 15 days and submit the report to the commission, following which the commission will engage with the bodies for the assessment and formulation of the annual action plan. – Directorate of Panchayats/Municipal Administration
Issue a special order to every panchayat to organise Bal Sabhas for children in the age group of 11 to 18 years on Panchayati Raj Divas (April 24, 2023), presided over by a sarpanch, to discuss issues concerning them, hear their opinions and take necessary decisions.
Further, Bal Sabhas should be made compulsory every six months. The commission recommends that concerns like child abuse, the menace of drugs, child exploitation, child labour, education, health, girls’ safety, an improved mid-day meal scheme, the access to government schemes, sanitation, and hygiene need to be discussed to ensure children’s participation in the decision-making process and create a child-friendly atmosphere in villages for their growth. – Directorate of Panchayats
Direct panchayats and councils to have a separate budget to give a thrust to their comprehensive development plan for children with inputs from children – Directorate of Panchayats
Direct the municipal councils to have two special meetings every year of the child committees in line with Bal Sabhas. – Directorate of Municipal Administration