GUWAHATI: Governor of Assam, Prof Jagdish Mukhi on Monday launched U-Report for the Suraksha campaign.

This 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. 

Launching the U-Report for Suraksha campaign at a function in the capital, 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, pledges 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”, Prof Mukhi said. 

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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, NSS NE, who wants to reach 45,000 NSS volunteers through U-Report. 

“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 Dr 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 Dr Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of UNICEF Assam. 

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The actions taken by the young people will contribute to 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, online violence. 

Harmeet Singh, Commissioner of Police, Guwahati said, “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.” 

“U-Report is a unique tool for understanding the situation at hand, and can further inform Assam Police programmes. We will be extending support through this endeavour by promoting it on our social media channels to ensure maximisation of reach,” he added.

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Highlighting the role of media in creating awareness of key social development issues in the state, Dr Samudra Gupta Kashyap, 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. Through today’s launch, the organizers aim to reach and capture the opinions of 45,000 NSS volunteers, to begin with, and UNICEF has planned for more U-Report info-bots, quizzes etc. on protection issues to continue to support actions and take concerns of young people to the highest level of decision making. 

Founder of the WAY Foundation, Indrajit Sinha said, “This UReport quiz is just the first of many engagements with young people in Assam. In collaboration with NSS and UNICEF, we are planning a number of workshops with university and college students and aim to support them in starting social action projects on protection issues.”

Moving forward, UNICEF will share the outcome of the U-Report with the Assam State Commission for Child Rights to strengthen their public awareness campaign, Suraksha.

The outcome will also be shared with the Assam Police, the Department of Social Justice, the Government of Assam, and civil society. A Youth Agenda will be developed basis the outcome of the U-Report, which will be presented to the political leadership.

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