In New Delhi, seminar explores ending violence against children

December 21, 2012

NEW DELHI, India — Ending the maltreatment and abuse of young people is a global challenge that must be urgently addressed. This was among the central themes of a recent seminar on "Ending Violence against Children," held in the environs of the Baha'i House of Worship here.

"The protection of children from violence is a priority for action," Dora Giusti – a child protection specialist with UNICEF in India – told the seminar. "The need is for a multi-faceted approach to build a protective environment for children."

The seminar on 22 November was organized to observe National Communal Harmony Week, the 2012 commemoration of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, and to mark 20 years since India acceded to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The event was sponsored by the Baha'i community of India in association with the National Foundation for Communal Harmony, the North India Chapter of the Global Network of Religions for Children, and the India Alliance for Child Rights.

Participants included representatives of government, non-governmental organizations, academicians, students, and journalists, along with families from the regions of Gujarat and Assam.

Among the topics addressed were corporal punishment, policies and processes for the protection of children, and the underlying causes of violence in today's society.

Shanta Sinha, Chair of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, emphasized the need to build a culture of non-violence if the issue is to be addressed long term. Vinay Srivastava, a professor of anthropology at Delhi University, agreed, adding that while individual parents, educators and care givers need to look at their own attitudes and behaviors towards children, there should also be studies made to address the culture of violence in society and what structures may need changing.

"An essential concept for progress in this area is that of trusteeship, said Farida Vahedi, director of the Indian Baha'i Office of Public Affairs, recognizing that "every child is born into this world as a trust of the whole of humanity."

"It is only when children's right to spiritual education, nutrition, health, shelter, security and safety are ensured that they can take up their responsibility to work for humanity's progress and development," said Ms. Vahedi.