Children are the pillars of a nation, especially girl children. Every girl child has the right to live happily and protected. The family and parents are the first line protection for the children. Girl Children commonly experience lack of rights in developing countries. This study investigated parent’s awareness and attitude towards Girl Child’s rights and needs at the family and community levels in Kerala. This is a descriptive study surveyed 100 parents in Thiruvananthapuram. The sample selection was based on convenience sampling method. Data were analyzed and interpreted using descriptive and inferential statistics. Majority of the parent’s had (81.15%) average level of knowledge where 17.85% of the parent’s had good knowledge and 00.94% had poor knowledge regarding Girl Children’s Rights in all the dimensions regarding Girl Children’s Rights which included health, education, equality, and protection needs dimensions of the needs assessment questionnaire but at the same time majority of the parent’s had neutral attitude towards girl children’s rights. A positive correlation was found (r = 0.50, p < 0.05), between knowledge (mean = 20.92, SD = 3.37) and attitude (mean =107.77, SD =10.10) scores of parent’s regarding children’s rights. Further, a statistically significant association was found between men and women (χ2 = 9.65, p < 0.05), on the statement “Girl Children should have the right to quality child care” (χ2 = 10.66, p < 0.05). This study suggests that parents and communities need to be educated regarding the need of girl children’s rights and that legislation must be strengthened to meet the girl child rights of every girl child in the nation.
Key Words: Parents, knowledge, attitude, Child Act, Girl Child’s Rights
India’s rapidly deteriorating sex ratio (2011: 918 girls for 1,000 boys) has been linked to many factors, but primary among these is the perceived value of a girl child. However, if girls are not given equal access to education, then they cannot truly shine, and prove that they are valuable. Keeping this in mind, the Indian government initiated the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme in October 2014, aiming to provide survival, safety and education to the girl child. Along with focusing on education, the program celebrates the girl child, fights bias, and offers inclusiveness benefits.
Rationale of the Study
There are many challenges that India’s girl child education mission is facing.The many backwards practices that compromise a girl child’s access to education must be addressed in real-time. This requires on-ground, constant civic body support, in the form of local governance in districts. However, in areas with poor sex ratios often stubbornly, even administration members do not support women empowerment. Fighting this requires civil society workers to first understand, and then address issues like female foeticide, education, and welfare services for females. The Divisional Commissioner and other representatives must be open to a dialogue to regularly meet and chart out action plans with civil society. NGO workers and government workers must also be supported by local police, members of legislative assembly, and other influential people. It takes a substantial amount of time and effort to establish relationships at the local governance level, yet these officers are soon transferred, forcing officials, NGO workers, and those who volunteer and donate for education must then develop new relationships. Transfers to prime posts are common for top local officials. Newly appointed officials must then be educated and sensitised for girl child education. The support of newly appointed police and other officials also must be won again. The success of any girl child empowerment program, especially in a crisis situation like the one India is facing, requires firm and measurable accountability from civic administration. People in India’s poorer regions often ogle women officials and make unwanted advances, as they are surprised to see a woman in a position of power and success. Decades of patriarchal thinking and regressive local governance has created this environment. Volunteers visiting to educate or counsel young girls also face these challenges regularly. Rural India’s obsession with getting girls getting married as soon as possible defines a woman’s real role only as a homemaker. They must, therefore, be a subservient housewife, instead of achievers with their own victories. As women become inferior in this context, female foeticide is the logical conclusion – women are considered ‘someone else’s wealth’, and hence useless in the homes they are born in.
Objective of the study
The present study is to investigate parent’s awareness and attitude towards Girl Child’s rights and needs at the family and community levels in Kerala.
This is a descriptive study surveyed 106 parents in Thiruvananthapuram. The sample selection was based on convenience sampling method. Data were analyzed and interpreted using descriptive and inferential statistics. Socio demographic data information collected included age, gender, education, religion, education, employment, monthly income, participation in any public awareness program related to Children’s Rights, Awareness about child help-line and source of information regarding Children’s Rights. The instrument included 35 items (including negatively worded) in four dimensions: health, education, equality, and protection. This section used a 4 point (ordinal) scale rated from 0 (never) to 3 (always).There was no correct or incorrect answers. Subjects were informed that each question required a response.The researcher framed some more questions focusing in the dimensions of right to protection, right to privacy, right to protection from all forms of violence, child labour, drug abuse, sexual exploitation and detention and punishments and comprised a total of 170 attitude statements. A three point rating scale 1(restrictive), 2 (neutral) and 3 (permissive) was used for rating. Restrictive attitude means parent’s are least bothered about the Girl Children’s Rights, neutral attitude means parent’s either welcome or nor bother about Children’s Rights and permissive attitude means parent’s are very concern and they step forward to know about the Girl Children’s Rights.
The samples comprised 100 parents, of whom 36.79% subjects belonged to the age group of 30-40 years, 80.91% of them were females, Most of the subjects (94.33%) were Hindus and 0.94% were Christians. Slightly more than half (74.52%) of the subjects had higher secondary education while 5.66% had secondary education and 48.12% had primary education. Similarly, majority (83.01%) of the subjects were employed. 38.68% subjects belonged to above poverty line (In the present study, as per the hospital policy, where the present study was conducted, Below Poverty Line (BPL) was considered, when the participants family source of income was below 2500Rs/month and above that is considered as Above Poverty Line (APL). This criterion goes per with World Bank poverty estimate). A larger number subjects (93.40%) had never participated in any knowledge program regarding girl children’s rights and 91.51% of the subjects had no experience related to children’s rights issues. Majority of the subjects (96.22 %) were unaware about child help- line.46.22% subjects had mentioned newspaper as the source of information regarding Girl Children’s Rights.
Frequency and Percentage distribution of Overall level of Knowledge of Parent’s regarding Girl Children’s Rights. n =106
| Range of
|Poor||1 – 11||01||00.94|
|Average||12 – 23||80||81.14|
|Good||24 – 35||19||17.92|
Frequency and Percentage distribution of overall Attitude of Parent’s regarding Girl Children’s Rights. n =106
|Restrictive||1 – 57||Nil||Nil|
|Neutral||58 – 113||68||69.81|
|Permissive||114 – 170||32||30.19|
Table 1and 2 shows overall knowledge and attitude responses to health, education, equality, and protection needs dimensions of the needs assessment questionnaire revealed that majority of the parents (81.15%) had average knowledge in all the dimensions regarding Girl Children’s Rights, where 17.85% of the parent’s had good knowledge and 00.94% had poor knowledge regarding Girl Children’s Rights. And study revealed that majority of the parent’s (69.81%) had neutral attitude regarding Girl Children’s Rights followed by 30.19% had permissive attitude and none of the parent’s were having restrictive attitude regarding Girl Children’s Rights.
Table -3 shows coefficient of correlation among overall scores of knowledge and attitude, a statistically significant correlation was found (r = 0.50, p < 0.05), indicating positive relationship between knowledge and attitudes of parent’s regarding Girl Children’s Rights.
Further the association of the overall knowledge and attitude scores of parent’s with selected variables was determined, a statistically significant association was found between men and women (χ2 = 9.65, p < 0.05), on the statement “Girl Children should have the right to quality child care” (χ2 = 10.66, p < 0.05) .
The findings also revealed that more above median as compared to females, which indicates that the males have better knowledge than females regarding Girl Children’s Rights. Attitude level was also found to be significantly associated with gender (χ2 = 10.66, p < 0.05), where males score higher than females. And none of the other sample characteristics were significantly associated.
This study examines the knowledge and attitude of parents on girl children’s rights and correlates the findings. The present study also has certain limitations such as the study was restricted to smaller sample size made it difficult to generalize the findings. Prospective longitudinal research is vital to examine the awareness of girl children’s rights. Future research should focus on larger sample size and qualitative approach for depth understanding of children’s rights issues. Despite these limitations, the present study helps in creating awareness among the parent’s and their relatives regarding girl children’s rights.
This study found that 81.14% of parent’s had average knowledge regarding girl children’s rights but at the same time majority of the parent’s had neutral attitude towards girl children’s rights. This could be that they have heard about the Act but have not really known the contents of the Act. It is interesting to know that 80.91% of the study participants were females and it reflects on the knowledge and attitude scores. This could be because in Indian society men are more likely to face the community than women when exercising social rights. In developing countries like India, it is critical to examine factors that prevent women from accessing girl children’s rights. For instance women may be unable to take a decision related to her child care because her in-laws and husband make most of the child rearing decisions and forbid her to involve in her child care activities directly. In this study except gender other socio demographic data such as age, education, religion, education, employment, monthly income, participation in any public awareness program related to Girl Children’s Rights, Awareness about child help-line and source of information regarding Girl Children’s Rights had no significant difference and association with the study findings. But a positive correlation was found between knowledge (mean = 20.92, SD = 3.37) and attitude (mean =107.77, SD =10.10) scores of parent’s regarding girl children’s rights. Thus it could be concluded that the attitude of parent’s towards Girl Children’s Rights changes with increase in knowledge.
Proper development of effective coordinating mechanisms to promote concerted effort by relevant government bodies is very important. It is also emphasized the need for greater coordination across ministries and between levels of government if the knowledge and awareness of Girl Child Rights Act is to be achieved at the grass roots. The failure to create awareness and implement the Child’s Rights Act effectively and to curb the violation of child rights can be traced to the failure of a country to educate her citizens on human rights generally and child rights specifically.
Although knowledge and attitude of children’s rights are increasing around the world but still there is much more rhetoric paid to their value than genuine enforcement especially in developing countries like India. Therefore a lot still needs to be done so that we do not just pay lip service to the implementation of the Act. Currently this appears to be the case because according to reports there appears to be insignificant difference on the lives of the girl children in the various states before and after the passage of the bill as against the highly anticipated gains that motivated the introduction of the Act. As primary health care providers in the community, nurses are in good position to help and advocate on Girl Child’s Rights at both family and community levels.
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Assistant Professor, PG Department of Commerce,
Mahatma Gandhi College, Thiruvananthapuram