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ICCW News Bull. 1991 Jul-Dec;39(3-4):23-9.

Care of the abandoned child.

Abstract

PIP:

Care of abandoned children in India is discussed in terms of reasons for abandonment, the physical condition of the children, and legal categories. The options available currently are the cottage system, sponsorship programs, foster care, or adoption. Child-care and rehabilitation that may be necessary is specified as is the importance of maintaining records. The gaps in child-care are exposed. The role of nongovernmental organization (NGOs) and new legislation in closing the gaps is presented. Abandonment is usually a direct result of poverty, but it can also be caused by mental or physical handicaps or illegitimacy. The numbers of abandoned children may reach 2 million. 40-60% of abandoned infants die during monsoons and summers. The legal categories are privately abandoned, children on remand, or court-committed children. The cottage system emphasizes deinstitutionalization, but there remains a great demand for care. Sponsorship aims to strengthen the family unit to prevent abandonment. Foster care provides an alternative family substitute, but is known only theoretically. Childcare may involve instant hospitalization, care is an institution, or foster care with a suitable family. Nursery care requires discipline in hygiene, sanitation, maintenance of individual medical records, and a general cheerful atmosphere. Records are important for the child in later life and for adoption. Rehabilitation is a sociolegal process which must be done properly or it can jeopardize a child's future security. Despite the Supreme Court guidelines of 1984, there is no uniform system of adoption practices, and the child's interests are overlooked when adoptions are promoted. NGOs play an important role in making social welfare programs work. However their efforts are of limited help without government support and legislation. There is a lack of proper legislation which is outside the control of political and religious interests; e.g., Hindu law only permits adoption of one child of each sex. Malpractice exists because of the lack of uniform legislation and implementation, and restrictive and delaying tactics are just as harmful to the child. Trafficking in children to foreigners is still profitable. Suggestions include uniform and appropriate legislation, collaborative effort of NGOs and government-endorsed implementation, promotion of innovative and preventive measures to reduce abandonment, and development of an extensive program to provide safeguards against the exploitation of women.

PMID:
12317285
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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