Child Abuse and Protection Laws

India, the second-most populated country in the world, is home to 430 million children, that is about 42% of the country's overall population. 50% of all children are under care and protection, or protected from child sexual abuse, out of the total population of children. In India, the issue of child sexual abuse—which includes rape, sexual harassment, etc.—has gained more attention.

Millions of boys and girls are sexually molested both inside and outside of their homes by known individuals or by family members. Children are supposed to respect and obey adults in India without questioning what they do. India is the nation in which child sexual abuse has the greatest negative effects.

What does Exactly Child Abuse Define?

When a child less than 18 years old is mistreated, whether physically, emotionally, sexually, or psychologically, it is considered as child abuse. Child abuse can be either physical harm or mental harm or both.

There are numerous provisions implemented under Indian law to prevent child abuse, including −

Indian Penal Code, 1860

Following are the major provisions that defined in Indian Penal Code in reference to child abuse −

  • The IPC's Sections 315 and 316 deal with newborn and fetus deaths. In this situation, the accused will be penalized with up to 10 years in prison, a fine, or a combination of the two if they take any action to stop an unborn child from being delivered alive.

  • The abandonment of a child under the age of twelve is addressed in Section 317 of the Indian Penal Code. If a father or mother purposefully abandons his or her child, he or she faces up to seven years in prison, a fine, or both.

  • The IPC's Section 366A addresses coercing any minor girl into having sex with another individual. This offense carries a fine and a sentence of up to ten years in jail.

  • The Indian Penal Code's Sections 372 and 373 penalize anyone who is accused of buying or selling minor girls for the purposes of prostitution or illicit sexual activity. The accused will get a fine and a term of jail that can last up to ten years.

  • In addition, under Section 376(2)(i) of the IPC, the punishment for raping a young girl has been enhanced (made more severe) as a result of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. The lowest mandatory jail sentence for raping a female under the age of 16 is ten years, while the maximum sentence is life in prison.

Which Acts Constitute Child Abuse?

Many states also have laws that expressly address child abuse in addition to laws that regulate physical assaults against children, such as battery or homicide. All of these laws forbid cruelty to children, including physical assaults, mental abuse, and neglect, despite the fact that their terminology varies greatly.

  • Numerous states also have laws that particularly handle other forms of child abuse, like sexual abuse.

  • Regardless of the state where the abuse takes place, child abuse laws apply to the same behavior.

Investigation of Child Abuse

When a child protection worker evaluates a report and determines that a child or teenager may require protection, an investigation is launched. Depending on the situation, the police may be involved in investigations into abuse and/or neglect.

To fully understand what might be going on behind an accusation of child abuse, multiple interviews are required. To find out the facts and identify the appropriate course of action, authorities (law enforcement and/or child protective organizations) may wish to speak with the following individuals −

  • Child/children at center of the report

  • Parents

  • Siblings

  • Anyone else who lives in the home with the child

  • Teachers

  • Family doctor

A medical examination can be helpful in a case of child abuse as well. A child protection professional may remove a child from their home if they have reason to believe that the child or teenager requires protection and is in immediate danger.

Criminal Penalties for Child Abuse

Laws against child abuse frequently permit both misdemeanor and felony sentences for those found guilty of the offense. The distinction between the two frequently hinges on the kind of injury a youngster sustains. A couple that exposes their child to domestic violence may be prosecuted with a misdemeanor, as opposed to an adult who sexually abuses a child, who is normally charged with a felony.

Despite the fact that state laws vary greatly, a conviction for child abuse frequently results in one of several criminal penalties.


A significant fine may be assessed if you are found guilty of child abuse. State regulations on the penalties for being found guilty of child abuse vary greatly, but fines of several hundred to several thousand dollars are typical.


Child abuse convictions sometimes result in jail or prison terms. While a felony conviction can easily result in prison terms of 10 years or more, a misdemeanor conviction may result in a few days, months, or even up to a year in jail.


Child abuse penalties sometimes come with probationary periods. A couple who exposed their child to domestic abuse, for instance, might receive a probationary term from the court. Although they might span a year or more, probationary periods normally last at least six months.

Other Penalties

A court may also restrict parental rights when a parent, guardian, or other person with legal custody of a child is involved in the abuse of the kid. Restraining orders, placing a child in the care of a state agency or foster family, mandating that a parent visit the child only under the watchful eye of a court-appointed monitor, ordering individual or family therapy, and even taking away a parent's parental rights are all options that courts may exercise.

Historical Background of Child Abuse

Child sexual abuse (CSA) has historically been a hidden issue in India, generally disregarded in the media and by the criminal justice system. Until recently, CSA was not recognized as a criminal offense; in India, the only recognized specific sexual offense against children was rape, if not the only one.

  • Lack of particular legislation made it impossible to impose legal consequences on a variety of objectionable behaviors, including harassment, child sexual assault that did not amount to rape, and exploitation for pornography.

  • In recent years, activists, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and the Ministry of Women and Child Development of the central government have actively participated in breaking "the conspiracy of silence" and have created significant political and public impetus to address the issue.


The biggest social stigma is that associated with child abuse. A child may experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. A child's mental health may be harmed by any kind of abuse. Although there has been progress in raising social consciousness and teaching about children's rights, more has to be done.


Q1. What defines abuse?

Ans. An act of abuse is when someone is purposely harmed or injured. This can be a reference to any type of abuse, including physical, emotional, mental, (or child abuse).

Q2. What is considered abusive to a child?

Ans. Abuse is essentially an act of commission. It stands for an act of violence against a kid and typically takes one of three forms: physical, sexual, or emotional. Physical abuse is the intentional harm that a parent or other adult causes to a kid. This includes striking, setting on fire, or beating, etc.

Q3. What is a common characteristic of an abusive parent?

Ans. An abusive parent often demonstrates a pattern of controlling and aggressive behavior towards their child/ren, including physical violence, emotional manipulation, and/or verbal abuse.

Updated on: 15-Feb-2023


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