Cybercrimes against children records 32 pc increase in 2022: NCRB data

Overall, crime against children witnessed a significant increase of 8.73 pc

The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to protect children from sexual assault, harassment and pornography | Reuters

In a worrying trend, the recently released National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2022 data suggests a significant rise in the number of cybercrimes against children. An analysis by NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) shows 1,823 cases of cybercrimes against kids were reported in 2022 – a 32 per cent increase from 2021, when 1,376 such crimes were reported.

The commonest cybercrimes committed against children include cyber pornography and hosting or publishing obscene sexual materials depicting children (1,171 cases), cyberstalking or bullying (158 cases) and other allied crimes (416 cases), CRY analysis shows.

Overall, crime against children witnessed a significant increase of 8.73 per cent within a year with the total number of crimes committed against them standing at 1,62,449 in the country in 2022; while in 2021, the number stood at 1,49,404.

The analysis further reveals that in 2022, over 445 crimes were committed against children each day in the country, translating to an average of more than 18 crimes being perpetrated every hour, on average. The rate of cognisable crimes (the number of crimes per lakh population of children) against children increased to 36.6 in 2022 from 33.6 in 2021.

Expressing concern, especially over the sharp rise in cybercrimes against kids, Puja Marwaha, CRY chief executive officer (CEO), said the current NCRB data suggests that the apprehension that the Covid pandemic might have left children far more exposed to various online education and other entertainment platforms leading to increased risks for children at multiple levels, has come true.

“While keeping children away from online platforms is certainly not an option, we must have more stringent mechanisms to track down the offenders and sanitize the space for the younger generations,” she said.

179 pc increase in crimes against kids in a decade

Analysis of the decadal trend points to a worrying upward trajectory as crimes against children in India increased by a whopping 179 per cent in the decade between 2013 and 2022. Significantly, during the same period, the number of overall crimes in India decreased by 12.3 per cent, the CRY analysis points out.

The major crime heads that witnessed the most number of cases in 2022 included kidnapping and abduction of children (74,284 cases) and crimes under Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act (63,414 cases). These two crime heads contribute to more than 85 percent of total crimes committed against children in the country.

98.2 pc sexual offences against girls

A gender-wise analysis suggests that in 98.92 per cent of cases related to sexual offenses, the victims were girls – a trend that has been constantly worrying. Also, in 96.8 per cent of the cases of rapes of minors registered under POCSO Act (Sec 4 and 6), the offenders either came from familiar backgrounds or were known to the victims.

Madhya Pradesh second highest in concentration, rate of crimes

The data analysis shows that Maharashtra (12.8 per ent), Madhya Pradesh (12.6 per ent), Uttar Pradesh (11.5 per ent), Rajasthan (5.8 per ent) and West Bengal (5.5 per ent) were the states with the highest concentration of crimes against children in 2022. Together, these five states account for close to half of the total crimes (48.2 per cent) against kids being committed in the country. However, going by the rate of crimes, Delhi stands at the top (134.9 per lakh) followed by Madhya Pradesh (71), Maharashtra (57.5), Odisha (57.2), and Karnataka (41.3).

Attributing the increase of registered cases to the rise in reporting across several states, Marwaha said, “While it is heartening to see that public awareness is growing thereby contributing to higher filing of FIRs, we should also keep in mind that in our country many cases often go unrecorded, especially in the remote areas. Hence the actual scale of crimes committed against children may be higher than what the data reflect. It proves that, despite a series of measures having been taken at various levels of the administration, our children are far from a safe and protected childhood.”

On the way forward, she said, “Urgent measures are needed to strengthen India’s child protection systems. While on the one hand, it requires more resources at both systemic and financial levels and is not attainable without adequate budget allocations for child safety; on the other, it also looks for proactive participation of people at large at the community level. CRY believes that the Village Level Child Protection Committees (VLCPC) can play a critical role as the first ports of call to link with the formal system, and can go a long way in maintaining vigilance, and identifying vulnerable children at the community levels.”

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