A ban sensitive to children’s feelings

A ban sensitive to children’s feelings

The ban on outsiders' parties at CCIs is welcome

Representative Image. Credit: DH File Photo

The Karnataka government’s decision to ban birthday celebrations of outsiders at Child Care Institutions (CCI) is welcome. It has become fashionable for politicians, celebrities and the public to host their birthdays or that of their wards at CCIs without any thought to the negative impact such elite celebrations can have on the inmates. The CCIs provide a roof to victims of sexual crimes and child abuse, rescued child labourers and beggars, children abandoned by their parents and orphans, among others. 

While often parents celebrate their wards’ birthdays in CCIs to expose them to the travails of less fortunate children and inculcate the spirit of giving at an early age, this could psychologically impact the inmates as their own birthdays are not celebrated, with many of them not even knowing their birth dates. Thus, such celebrations can be an agonising experience for them.

The Directorate of Child Protection, which has imposed the ban, has instead called for programmes that build confidence in children and help them integrate seamlessly into the mainstream as they grow up, instead of organising parties which could only depress them. The deprivation felt by the children can be easily imagined as, at times, three or four parties are held on a single day.

The inmates tend to compare their own lives with that of more fortunate children, thus affecting their self-esteem and confidence levels, the circular adds. One of the objectives of the ban is to ensure that children do not feel they are in any way inferior to those growing up with their parents.

Child rights activists have for long demanded such a ban, pointing out that inmates of CCIs cannot be paraded like animals in a zoo and forced to sing and dance for others’ birthdays in exchange for a piece of cake or sweets.

The practice of doling out used clothes and toys has also attracted criticism. Often, photographs of these celebrations are uploaded on social media in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act, which prevents revealing the identity of such children. Not all CCIs have the wherewithal to provide a decent upbringing for their inmates. Private individuals, politicians and celebrities can always silently contribute in cash or kind without eroding the self-respect of the beneficiaries.

While the ban is a step in the right direction, the government should also ensure strict compliance with the United Nations Convention on Child Rights, which lays down that every child should grow up in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.

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