Assam governor Jagdish Mukhi launched U-Report for the Suraksha campaign in Guwahati on July 18. It is an interactive digital tool that aims to increase awareness of young people of Assam on cyberbullying and corporal punishment, and the redressal mechanisms made available by the government.
The governor lauded this effort to educate young people about the importance of protecting themselves in online spaces and understanding their rights. He urged young people to join U-Report, take the quiz, pledge to spread awareness, and report against any type of violence and abuse.
“I will direct all VCs to inform students about U-Report and ask them to participate. Similarly, I encourage all volunteers of the national service scheme (NSS), Bharat Scouts and Guides, and national cadet corps to join this endeavour,” Jagdish Mukhi said.
The governor appreciated the effort of UNICEF, NSS, ASCPCR and WAY Foundation in taking cognizance of protection issues being faced by young people in Assam and directed UNICEF to provide him with a report on the outcome of the U-Report.
Cyberbullying and corporal punishment were challenges identified by 2,000 NSS volunteers during workshops organized with UNICEF and facilitated by its partner, WAY Foundation in 2020.
“We asked volunteers about the impact of COVID-19 in their lives, and they voiced concerns over cyber-bullying and being subject to corporal punishment, and not knowing what to do about it,” said Deepak Kumar, regional director of NSS NE, who wants to reach 45,000 NSS volunteers through U-Report.
I am happy to have launched the U-Report- a free tool for community participation, for Suraksha Campaign organised by @UNICEF in collaboration with the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. pic.twitter.com/9Fh99AyHvu
— Prof. Jagdish Mukhi (@jagdishmukhi) July 18, 2022
“With U-Report, we aim to reach out to young people of Assam to inform them and learn about their experiences. This will help us understand the extent of the problem in the state and present it to duty bearers to inform policies and programmes,” said Madhulika Jonathan, chief of UNICEF Assam.
With the sustainable development goals of 5, 10 and 16 focusing on child protection, young people can play a crucial role in helping achieve targets by spreading awareness and monitoring the situation on ground. To ensure a sustained conversation and engagement on protection, the regional office of NSS NE will be using an updated annual calendar including activities focusing on child protection.
“With repeated engagement and action with wider networks of people and communities, NSS volunteers will be able to identify barriers and action solutions,” added Madhulika Jonathan.
The actions taken by the young people will contribute towards strengthening – Suraksha – a public awareness campaign that was launched in 2020 by ASCPCR in collaboration with UNICEF.
There are various forms of violence against children taking place everywhere – corporal punishment, domestic violence, peer violence like bullying, sexual violence, abuse and exploitation, cyber-bullying, and online violence.
“Unfortunately, evidence on violence against children is scarce as there are no national or state level prevalence surveys focusing on this issue. While reporting of cases is low, as people often avoid informing about its occurrence due to existing stereotypes,” said Harmeet Singh, commissioner of police, Guwahati.
“U-Report is a unique tool for understanding the situation at hand, and can further inform Assam Police programmes. We will be extending support by this endeavour by promoting it on our social media channels to ensure maximisation of reach.”
Highlighting the role of media in creating awareness of key social developmental issues in the state, Samudra Gupta Kashyap, the state information commissioner said: “Media is a force multiplier and an effective tool for development.” He also urged everyone to take this tool to the youth of the state through media so that a change can be affected.
U-Report India was launched in 2019 by the union minister of women and child development Smriti Irani and the previous UNICEF India executive director Henrietta Fore.
It is a unique tool that uses digital platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter to engage young people on issues they care about. Once a U-Reporter has followed @UReportIndia on Twitter or Liked U-Report India Facebook Page for instance, quizzes and alerts are sent via direct message and responses are collected in real-time on this site. Results and ideas are shared back with the young people’s community and policymakers. So far, U-Report India has covered issues including health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, youth unemployment, HIV/AIDS, and disease outbreaks.