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By Saish Bhise
Beware! Paedophiles are on the prowl. Since the onset of the pandemic, India has seen an uptick in child pornography cases. A report titled 'Child Sexual Abuse Material in India', which maps the search trends of more than 100 cities, specifically highlighted that the traffic on various pornography sites had increased significantly when compared with the pre-lockdown era. In a global compilation of reports of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) found online, India tops the list with around 11.7 per cent of the total reports, followed by Pakistan which contributes 6.8 per cent of all reports.
Various state law enforcement agencies have launched dedicated special operations to nab paedophiles. Early on during the onset of the pandemic last year, the Indian Child Protection Fund (ICPF) released a report highlighting the rise in child pornography consumption. The primary cause for the rise was the nationwide lockdown. Due to curbs imposed on travel and socializing, paedophiles have migrated online to satiate their thirst for child pornography.
India's fight against CSAM was reinforced in 2019 when The National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a US-based non-profit entity that works on the prevention of child exploitation, started sharing tip-offs about CSAM in India with Indian law enforcement agencies. These tip-offs were received at National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) which then passed those to the respective state law enforcement agencies. Around 25,000 cases of CSAM being uploaded online were reported in just five months between September 2019 to January 2020 across the nation. While the national capital, Delhi topped the list in terms of people who were involved in uploading CSAM, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are also equally ranked.
Experts opine that most of the cases go unreported as parents, guardians fear social stigma. Approximately in 60 per cent of the cases, the offenders are either family members or close relatives and in around 50 per cent of cases, pornographic material was filmed without the knowledge of the abused child.
Cyber grooming is the newest threat in India's fight against CSAM. Internet penetration is quite high since the onset of the pandemic and its need is amplified due to online education. Gen Z's and baby boomers are well versed with the internet, social media than older adults.
There is an alarming rise in the cases of paedophiles befriending children on various social media sites, gaming platforms with an explicit intention of sexual exploitation. It is high time that parents, law enforcement agencies and policymakers take serious note of Child Sexual Abuse.
Even as the whole world is reeling under the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic, parents should be aware of various seasonal diseases that may occur during the rainy and winter seasons and must protect their children from these infections, doctors said. The most common seasonal diseases are Influenza, Dengue, Malaria, Typhoid, and a few other viral infections that mimic those infections. The reasons for the spread of these diseases include water clogging, contamination of water bodies, improper sanitization, rainwater puddles, and overcrowding.
Flu is spread through droplet transmission, while dengue and malaria are caused by mosquito bites and diarrhoeal disease and water-borne jaundice occur due to consumption of contaminated water. Cold, cough, sneezing, rapid breathing, loose stools, vomiting, headache, body pains, fever, refusal of feeds are some of the common symptoms associated with flu-like illness. Other diseases also share some of the symptoms. Most of these infections are self-limiting and require only symptomatic medication along with adequate hydration.
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"Visit a pediatrician is important if a child has a fever for more than 3 days, experiencing fast breathing, reduction in urine output, lack of interest in food, unbearable abdominal pain or blood in stools or vomit. Getting hospitalized in these times of a global pandemic is not good for children, and parents must take good care to ensure it," said Dr. Prayaga Jyothsna, Consultant Paediatrician, SLG Hospitals said.
Most of these infections are easily diagnosed and can be treated effectively with medication, and diseases like flu and typhoid are preventable with vaccines, and malaria and dengue can be prevented by control of mosquitoes, the doctor added.
"Ensure healthy and balanced diet and limit your child's favorite roadside stall's monsoon special, Sev puri, Pani Puri, chutney, pakoras, etc. for hygienic reasons. A daily bowl of hot vegetable soup or herbal tea is mandatory for your entire family to normalize body temperature and boost immunity. Give your children plenty of fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables that are washed properly. Make children drink clean, boiled, or filtered water as it keeps their bodies hydrated and healthy. Ensure that there is no stagnant water either in your house or in your neighborhood. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes," said Dr. Anjul Dayal, Consultant Paediatrician, Continental Hospitals.
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Dr. Prashanth Chandra, Consultant - General Medicine, Gleneagles Global Hospitals said parents should communicate with young children in an age-appropriate manner by using simple terminologies about Covid-19 to create awareness. "Efforts should be made so that a consistent routine is followed by the child, with enough opportunities to play, read, rest, and engage in physical activity. Provide more praise and social reinforcements to children compared to material reinforcements."
Doctors pointed out that due to the lockdown and subsequent online schooling of the children there is a restriction of mobility and confinement to home leading to a sedentary lifestyle. This can potentially cause a huge surge in obesity or increased weight gain in children. Due to online schooling, the amount of time spent on screen has increased leading to various eye-related problems such as dry eyes, vision, and accommodation problems, etc. It is important parents stay cautious of every such aspect which would harm the child and could lead to hospitalization. (IANS/JC)