The National Child Protection Authority was created as the first governmental organization dedicated to work to secure the rights of children in Sri Lanka. The NCPA have taken several measures to protect Sri Lankan Children from various abuses so far. The 'Child Line' hotline service was introduced by the NCPA, aimed at eradicating child abuse and to come to the defence of helpless children.
The NCPA can be contacted free of charge throughout the day over any telephone network by dialing 1929. A greater number of calls are related to harassments in private and Government schools. The service can be utilised by any person or even a child on any sort of child-related issue such as child abuse, harassment, child labour, and complaints and so on. Children who need counseling can contact the NCPA and they will be assisted by experts to stabilise their mental make-up.
Let us now see the services rendered for the orphaned, abandoned, destitute and abused children of Sri Lanka. There are Children's Homes established and run by voluntary organizations with due advice and assistance and help of the Department of Probation and Child Care Services with a view to providing protection and care for the orphaned, abandoned, destitute and abused children. There are facilities for these children to receive normal education as well. The best way for the growth of a child is to be with his/her parents.
Only children orphaned due to death of both parents or those abandoned by parents or those Destitute consequent to deprivation of basic needs, are institutionalized. There are few Children's Homes, established and administrated by the Department to receive and provide protection for Children who have been deprived of living at home temporarily or permanently. Such Homes are located at Panadura, Galle, Bandarawela, Jaffna, Kandy, Pannipitiya, Migalawa(Kurunegala) and Kuruwita (Rathnapura). The national centre for children Training and counselling services.
Social re-integration of children by protecting their rights after they have been given requisite counseling and vocational training has to be done systematically. Since they have been suffering from mental affliction and disorder consequent to various forms of abuse and other social reasons, they have been subject to. The Department makes necessary arrangements to admit children to these centres on the recommendation of the Child Rights Protecting Officers and the Probation Officer's concerned.
Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power. Vulnerable children face five principal types of risk: sexual abuse, emotional abuse, institutional abuse, physical neglect, and non-organic failure to thrive.
In Sri Lanka 25% of court cases heard in courts are child abuse cases, reveals a study conducted by the Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Ministry. A notable feature is majority of children were victimized by their blood relatives. According to the study 51% court cases of Ambilipitiya are on child abuses, 32.7% of Badulla district, 24% Kegalle, 45.27% from Polonnaruwa, 40.17% from Rathnapura, 38.60% from Kandy, 33.16% from Anuradhapura reported as child abuses.
Apart from this situation, a large number of children are involved in some form of economic activity or child labour in Sri Lanka. According to a recent National Survey on Child Labour, nearly 26 per cent of children living in Sri Lanka engaged in an economic activity while not attending school or any other educational institution. It is reported in the survey that 52 per cent (475,531) of all working children are under 15 years of age.
The majority of the children engaged in economic activity are boys (62.3 per cent). Furthermore, 95 per cent of all working children reside in rural areas.
Studies have shown that despite improvements in primary school enrolment, school dropouts at an early stage come from poor families. Furthermore, many of these children, particularly girls, are forced to stay home caring for their younger siblings at the expense of their schooling. Those who drop out from school find their way into the child labour market.
More and more children are subjected to violence in today's world. It is everyone's responsibility to protect children from violence. Decision makers and opinion formers should take steps to change policies and practices, locally and globally, to ensure children's rights become a reality.
In a typical press report, Lankapuvath reported on March 19, 2009 that two suspects had been taken into custody according to information received by the National Child Protection Authority regarding an incident where a 10 year old girl studying at a school in Borella had been raped by her close relations. The suspects of the incident had been presented to the Colombo Magistrate's Court on 17th March 2009 and had been released on 500,000 personal bail. The child had been entrusted to the probation and child care authority. This is a typical case reported by the media in Sri Lanka representing the dangers faced by island's children.
Child abuse represents a big danger to Sri Lankan children, jeopardizing their lives, their health, their physical, emotional and intellectual growth. Many children in the island experience some form of abuse whether it be sexual exploitation, lascivious conduct, physical and verbal, neglect or abandonment.
Sri Lanka is also affected by many natural disasters every year. Floods, landslides, drought and coastal erosion are some of the common disasters faced by Sri Lanka every year. Children are the most vulnerable group during and following a disaster. It is a fact that exposure to natural disasters has a devastating impact on the psychological and social well-being of children. We need to prevent children and young persons falling prey to those who may subject them to abuse and exploitation because of their vulnerability. Establishing a good rapport with the children and understanding their signs and symptoms to stressful events is very essential at disaster situations.
Unfortunately, some children, especially those who are left with single parents have faced traumatic events including, but not limited to, neglect, physical and psychological abuse and various degrees of abandonment due to the re-marriage of the living parent.