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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

UGC asks colleges, universities to implement NHRC advisory against child-sexual abuse materials

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked all higher education institutions (HEI) to implement the advisory prepared by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for the protection of the rights of children against production, distribution, and consumption of child-sexual abuse material (CSAM).

In a letter addressed to all universities and colleges, UGC secretary Manoj Joshi said that the information in the NHRC’s advisory, issued in October, must be disseminated, and its recommendations implemented. He requested the HEIs to inform the UGC about the action taken on this matter.

The NHRC had said in the advisory that 1,505 instances of publishing, storing, and transmitting CSAM under Section 578 of the Information Technology Act and Sections 14 and 15 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, had been reported in 2021. “Production of CSAM creates a permanent record of sexual abuse while its subsequent transmission and consumption via internet and other means results in perpetual victimisation of children thereby having a lasting psychological impact on the child leading to further disruption of his/her overall development,” the NHRC had noted.

The NHRC said effective identification and blocking of CSAM content, timely sharing of data among stakeholders and expedited prosecution of offenders is the need of the hour.

The NHRC has also recommended schools, colleges, and institutions to ensure continuous education and generation of awareness among students, parents, and teachers on the modus operandi of online child-sexual abusers, specific vulnerabilities of children online, reporting mechanisms, recognising early signs of online child abuse and grooming through emotional and behavioural indicators, use of parental control apps, internet safety among children through different means, like conducting workshops in schools, involving civil society, etc.

The NHRC also wanted Central and State Education Boards to draft and incorporate cyber curriculum in schools, including cyber safety, personal safety, relevant child care legislation, national-local policies, and legal consequences of violating the laws. “Psycho-social care centres may be established in every district to facilitate need-based support services and organisation of stigma eradication programmes,” the advisory had said.

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