Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Nada India recommendations as part of National Child Rights Coalition for a National action plan

Nada India recommendations as part of National Child Rights Coalition for a National Action Plan (Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India) to secure the rights of children in India Consultation held on 30th & 1st Oct 2015 in Delhi.

By Suneel Vatsyayan

Child & Alcohol

World Health Organisation (WHO) defines alcohol as a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties. A number of studies have shown that the harmful use of alcohol can act as a large disease, social and economic burden in societies. In the year 2010, WHO estimated the average alcohol per capita consumption in India to be 4.3 which included both recorded and unrecorded data and the prevalence of alcohol use disorders and alcohol dependence was found to be 2.6%.

In a comparison based study conducted in Ranchi, in parent-child relationship a significant difference was found between the children of alcoholic and non- alcoholic parents mainly in the domains of symbolic punishment, rejecting, objective punishment, demanding, in-different, symbolic reward, loving, and neglecting for father whereas for mother in the domain of symbolic punishment, rejecting, object punishment, indifferent, and neglecting.

In a study by National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), a majority of children reported lifetime use of a variety of substances where tobacco (83.2%) and alcohol (67.7%) were found to be the most common substances ever used followed by cannabis (35.4%), inhalants (34.7%), pharmaceutical opioids (18.1%), sedatives (7.9%), and smack (7.9%). Also, the use of inject-able substances was found to be reported by a significant proportion (12.6%). In the same study the major family factors associated with substance use in children were found to be substance use in a family member (57%), single parent/ broken families/living with relatives/no parents (25%), fights in the family (46.6%), and history of physical/verbal abuse (45.3%).

Children & Women are the prime victims of alcohol /drug use by adults in the family and have been overlooked & marginalized for long. Children often end up on the streets when alcohol ravages in their homes and families. According to the IOGT International’s fact sheet, almost 65% women were found to experience intimate partner violence. Alcohol /drug use in the family exposes children to unhealthy environment, neglect, abuse, and higher risk for early substance use. For many children, this results in a loss of childhood and thus violates a child’s right to grow up safely.

Article 33 of Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) affirms that children have a right to grow up free from alcohol and other drugs. Though children effected and affected by alcohol and drugs find a space in the national child policy 2013 and national policy for drug demand reduction 2014 however, a national alcohol policy is still underway and it would be of foremost importance to make this policy child centered with interventions from ministry of women and child development and national child rights coalition.

It would be right to hold that children have a right to grow up free from alcohol and other drugs and thus, we believe for the best interest principle enshrined in the CRC and thus come to the conclusion that evidence-based alcohol policy measures help to protect and promote the rights and well being of children in India.

Key issues:

  • Easy availability of alcohol at home and alcohol related violence marginalize the child and make him/her vulnerable. 
  • Age of initiation of substance use has come down to 11 to 12 years. Underage drinking is rampant among senior school level because of commercial interest and lack of monitoring and compliance on the part of law enforcement departments.
  • There is no monitoring and control on alcohol marketing in a market driven society. Alcohol industry is targeting children and young people through surrogate advertising, sponsoring sports events, and social media. Feature films and television contents have been manipulated for the promotion of alcohol indirectly.
  • Tobacco, alcohol, and drug prevention policy at school and workplace level is missing, for example how to deal with a child abusing substance like correction fluid, tobacco, and alcohol/drugs.
  • Limited availability of drug treatment and rehabilitation services exclusively for children with drug and alcohol problem.

·       The cause of child right deserves champions that are free from conflict of interest and do not endorse unethical companies and harmful products like tobacco and alcohol.

We believe that being exposed to alcohol marketing in any form is a violation of a child’s right of growing up in an alcohol/drug free environment. The collaboration between UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Mr. David Beckham, a global icon that has wide appeal among children worldwide, and who has a lucrative endorsement deal with the world’s biggest producer of hard alcohol, Diageo shows a huge conflict of interest. United Nations (UN) projects Priyanka Chopra as an ambassador for child rights and adolescent health however, she endorses Rajnigandha silver pearls (cardamom) coming from the same company that makes India’s two leading pan masala and zarda brands. The objective of celebrity endorsement is brand recall and brand association. The commercial advertising is so powerful that young girls would associate Priyanka with Rajnigandha rather than seeing her as the goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Such blatant association with tobacco and alcohol brands is definitely worrisome and calls for an immediate action.
·  Exclusive district wise drug counselling and treatment facilities for drug and alcohol affected children at a community level. Current number of exclusive drug rehabilitation centres outnumbers the demand. Children are forced to be treated along with adults in conventional treatment centres private or government funded.

·  There is a need to set up monitoring cells, may be run by civil society groups like national child rights coalition or the government in order to monitor child issues, carry out research, and to keep a vigil on contents promoting substance use targeting children and young people directly as well as indirectly.

·     Prevention efforts must target both demand and supply reduction efforts. Supply reduction efforts should limit availability of tobacco and alcohol at home, near residential areas and schools. There is a need to enforce a mandatory alcohol prevention policy for government and private run schools, in order to deal with children effected and affected by alcohol and drugs. Prevention in schools should include universal prevention programmes such as education, and life skill programmes. School going children who are at risk should have access to professional and peer counselling in the school setting.

A picture painted by a student affected by alcohol in the family during the campaign launch workshop on “Drug free Family and School: A child Right, launched by Nada India Foundation, New Delhi.

Articles whose implementation is related to the article 33

·         Article 17: mass media, dissemination of information
·         Article 19: protection from all forms of maltreatment by parents and other carers
·         Article 24: health and health services
·         Article 29: education to prepare children for responsible life in a free society
·         Article 32: protection from hazardous or exploitative work
·         Article 37: protection for children deprived of liberty
·         Article 39: rehabilitative care
·      Optional protocol to the convention on the rights of the child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography


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