Crimes Against Children in India: An ASAR Data Story
By ASAR Blog Team
Ideation & Drafting
Divya Shrinivas, Shreyas Patil, Sweta Dubey
Calculations & Visualisations
Shreyas Patil, Sweta Dubey, Divya Shrinivas
Shreyas Patil, Divya Shrinivas
Review & Editing
Shreyas Patil, Sweta Dubey, Parth Sharma
‘There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.’
- Nelson Mandela
At 444 million, India is home to one of the largest children populations on the planet. To put things in perspective, every fourth individual in India is a child between the age of 1 to 14 years. Children are the future and their well-being is a reflection of the well-being of our society. A major part of nurturing children includes providing them with a safe environment to grow. They must be protected from harm, exploitation, and abuse, and their rights should be respected and upheld.
However, it is not uncommon to encounter children being the victims of crime. For e.g. 1 out of 2 children across the world experience some form of violence every year. The offenses committed against a person below 18 years of age are considered crimes against children in India. Crimes against children can be physical, sexual, or emotional and include murder, kidnapping, sexual exploitation, abandonment, trafficking, etc. Children of all ages ranging from infants to adolescents are victimized. Such a crime can occur in homes, schools, and communities. It can be perpetrated by anybody; not just strangers but even close family members.
Being a victim of crime can negatively affect the emotional and psychological development of a child. It leads to lower grades and absenteeism from school. Adults with a history of abuse as a child are less likely to be employed, own assets, and have reduced earning potential than their counterparts who have had a safer childhood.
In this ASAR Data Story, we use the data provided by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) for the year 2021 to analyze the pattern of the major crimes against children in India.
1) How did the total crime rate vary across the states/union territories of India in 2021?
According to the NCRB, a total of 1,49,404 cases were registered as crimes against children in 2021. The average rate of all crimes against children in the country was 33 per 1,00,000 children in 2021. The highest rate of crimes against children was observed in Delhi at 128.5 per 1,00,000 children. In contrast, the union territory of Ladakh reported a rate of 1.25 crimes per 100,000 children.
These rates should be interpreted with caution. A high rate could just be the natural outcome of better reporting or a skewed figure due to a smaller state population. The map of India below depicts the variation in the overall crime rate across states/UTs (Figure 1).
Figure 1: https://www.datawrapper.de/_/ssT4K/
2) How do the proportions of different crimes against children vary between 2020 and 2021?
Total crime against children rose by 16.2% in 2021 (1,49,404 total cases) as compared to the year 2020 (1,28,531 total cases). Though there has been an increase in the number of all crimes in 2021, the relative proportions of the categories of crimes mostly remained unchanged. Kidnappings and sexual crimes constitute the bulk of crimes against children for both years at 85% (2020) and 86% (2021) respectively.
The proportion of kidnappings and abductions saw a 2% increase, while that of sexual crimes saw a marginal decrease of 1% in 2021 compared to 2020. The piechart below represents the contribution of each category of crime to the overall crimes against children in 2020 and 2021 (Figure 2).
Figure 2: https://www.datawrapper.de/_/VjITt/
3) What are the rates of kidnappings and abductions across the states/union territories of India in 2021?
In 2021, kidnappings and abductions constituted almost half (45%) of all crimes against children. A total of 67,245 children were kidnapped or abducted across India. The reasons for kidnappings and abductions include the procuration of minor girls, ransom, for the purpose of begging, to compel a girl for marriage, and murder.
The highest reported rate for kidnappings and abductions was 91.2 per 1,00,000 in Delhi. Meanwhile, the union territories of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Ladakh reported zero kidnappings and abductions in 2021. Whether these zeroes are true nulls or the result of inadequate reporting is debatable and warrants a deeper look. The image below portrays the rates of kidnapping and abductions across the Indian states/UTs (Figure 3).
Figure 3: https://www.datawrapper.de/_/30NiB/
4) What are the rates of sexual crimes across the states/union territories of India in 2021?
These include all crimes that fall under the purview of rape, the “Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO)” act, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse. According to the NCRB 2021, a total of 61,035 crimes were committed under the following categories: rape, attempt to rape, assault with intent to outrage the modesty of a woman, insult to the modesty of a woman, and POCSO.
Two out of every five crimes against children were sexual. Under the POCSO act, the number of criminal acts committed against girls was 52,836, almost fifty times higher than those against boys at 1,038. Overall, Andaman & Nicobar Islands reported the highest rate of sexual crimes; 98.18 per 1,00,000 children. However, among the states/UTs with at least 10 lakhs population, Kerala had the highest rate of sexual crimes at 35.3 per 1,00,000 children. The map below showcases the rates of sexual crimes across the Indian states/UTs (Figure 4).
Figure 4: https://www.datawrapper.de/_/7myzh/
5) How did the recording of crimes against children vary across different states/union territories of India in 2021?
A chargesheet refers to a formal police record showing the names of each person brought into custody, the nature of the accusations, and the identity of the accusers.The chargesheeting rate is defined as the percentage of crimes chargesheeted by the police out of the total cases disposed of by the police. According to NCRB data, states like Andhra Pradesh and Kerala had high chargesheeting rates of 93.2 and 94.1 per 1,00,000 crimes respectively while Delhi and Chandigarh had low chargesheeting rates of 32.5 and 32.1 per 1,00,000 crimes.
The image below shows that states and UTs with a higher chargesheeting rate had a lower overall crime rate as compared to the states and UTs with a lower chargesheeting rate with a few exceptions (Figure 5).
Figure 5: https://www.datawrapper.de/_/UCYLL/
The unsuspecting nature and naivety of children make them fall prey to various criminal elements. Reliable data forms a fundamental part of the evidence needed to unveil these heinous acts in our society and tackle them effectively. Several obstacles affect the availability of data, including methodological and ethical challenges. Certain crimes are better reported than others, but a lot many go unreported as the children are unable or unwilling to report them.
Protecting our children begins with advocating for stricter laws and safer environments. Moreover, imbibing practices like basic self-defense, the difference between good touch and bad in children, and something as basic as memorizing essential contact numbers can go a long way in making them feel confident if they find themselves in an unsafe environment or uncomfortable situation. Tracking data over the years can be an important step in helping law enforcers focus on specific hotspots leading to improved vigilance and safer surroundings for the growth and development of children everywhere.
Cite this article as:
Shrinivas D, Dubey S, Patil S, Sharma P. Crimes Against Children in India: An ASAR Data Story. 2023 Apr 18 ; Available from: https://www.asarforindia.org/post/crimes-against-children-in-india-an-asar-data-story