The beginning of 2023, a brand new year, brought with it renewed hopes for healthy and happy lives. Like fading scars of a once-painful injury, we did see remnants of the pandemic, but also witnessed a hearty wave of positive news that served as soothing balms on an otherwise tumultuous past year for children. Here we list headlines that capture this mixed bag of events that set the tone for the status of child rights and protection in the beginning of the year.

1. Post-Pandemic Children Face a Drop in Reading And Arithmetic Skills

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2022 spotted a worrying trend, which came to public light right at the onset of this year. As per the report, children across the country have faced a steady decline in their reading and arithmetic skills. The basic reading ability is measured by making them read words, short sentences and simple paragraphs, while the arithmetic levels are assessed by making them recognize numbers from 1 to 99 and carry out 2-digit subtraction.

The Director of the ASER Center, Wilima Wadhwa, attributes the dip to prolonged school closures, during the pandemic, which were the longest of their kind globally.

A veritable wave of digitization has gripped India’s education system. This retrograde in learning, however, cannot be overlooked.

2. Digital India Act Set to Protect Children from Cyber Bullying

Children today have lot more access to mobile phones than they did a decade ago. This unbridled access was introduced with the intent of getting children closer to global affairs and knowledge. The flip side of the coin reared its ugly head in the form of increasing cases of cyber bullying against teenagers. Considering this surge, the Central Government of India has introduced the Digital India Act.

This laudable act intends to protect children and vulnerable users from cyberbullying by criminalizing it. Violators of online privacy and cyberbullies will have to pay hefty penalties hereon. The act is also believed to have mandates for children below the age of 18 that restrict excessive time spent on playing online games and making in-game purchases.

3. Delhi Welcomes Bal Mitra, a Whatsapp Chatbot that Supports, Informs and Protects

Bal Mitra’ is a WhatsApp Chatbot introduced by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) as a handy, modern-age support for children and parents in Delhi. The chatbot also aims to serve as a source of authentic information on child rights.

Citizens can use the chatbot to report violations of child rights and rest assured of the shared information remaining safe. It is also worth noting that the chatbot follows the DCPCR’s former technological solution ‘Early Warning System’, which helped reduce the state’s dropout rate.

4. Over 1000 Children Rescued during Telangana’s Operation Smile

The Telangana State Police carried out Operation Smile, a mission that set out to rescue thousands of children, 2,814 children to be precise, including 2,421 boys and 393 girls. The children were rescued across the state from the streets, bonded labour, brick kilns and myriad other trying circumstances.

While all the children rescued during the mission were reunited with their parents and guardians, the perpetrators behind the heinous acts were arrested as well.

5. RPF’s Operation Nanhe Farishtey Rescues Thousands of Minors

Operation Nanhe Farishtey was yet another trailblazing operation, conducted by officials of the Railway Protection Force of the East Central Railway. As a part of this mission, the personnel rescued over 1,256 minor children, including 433 girls, who would have otherwise been trapped in the web of human trafficking.

6. Maharashtra Kickstarts Medical Screening for State’s 2 Crore Children

The Maharashtra State Government announced a special health initiative for children. As a part of Bal Suraksha Abhiyan, the state officials plan to conduct medical screening of over two crore children, with the help of the robust network of ASHA workers.

The goal of this campaign is to identify deficiencies, diseases, development delays and defects at birth. As part of the campaign, if any health issue is diagnosed in a child, they will be referred to a medical practitioner specializing in the field.

7. Anju George Lauds Khelo India and Its Promise of Support

In the recent sports budget allocation, Khelo India—the country’s pioneering programme that serves as a platform for budding sportspersons—received the largest allocation. This step has been lauded by former sports stars, including Anju George.

Now a member of the Mission Olympic Cell, Ms. George was India’s first athlete to make a podium finish. Regarding the Khelo India program as a strong foundation for India’s future sportspersons, Ms. George highlighted the tremendous support that the program offers to promising talent, while listing some of its previous beneficiaries, which include the likes of Hima Das and Dutee Chand.