“Before, Not After”

Debasish Chattopadhyay

Kolkata 4 March : Kolkata’s Child in Need Institute has been applauded and recognized by Harvard University for its unique “Before, Not After” Method. Working for more than four decades for overall Community Development and Mother and Child Healthcare, the “Before, Not After” Method is an initiative by CINI to prevent violations of children’s rights before they occur in India. It is a part of the CINI’s core preventive approach towards Child Protection by preventing harm by intervening before it occurs. Soumitra Chatterjee, Eminent Film Actor, was present to unveil the recognition. Dr. Samir Chaudhuri, Founder and Secretary, CINI was also present.

“Before Not After” is CINI’s Preventative Approach towards Child Protection in India or preventing harm by intervening before it occurs. It aims to prevent harm to children before it takes place by promoting the role of the community and the local government to fight against severe violations of children’s rights, all the way down there, where children are more vulnerable to risk.

To achieve the SDG target, Child in Need Institute (CINI) has applied CINI Method that involves communities, the rural and urban local self-government and service providers (such as teachers, health and ICDS workers, the police), networking them together and providing them the tools to devise local development plans within the framework of national and international policy and goals like the National Plan of Action for Children (NPAC), State Plans of Action for Children (SPAC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In the Bajitpur and Mahisail Gram Panchayats of Murshidabad District in West Bengal, the creation of preventive platforms, formed by the Panchayat, Service providers, Women’s self-help groups and groups of children and adolescents, has secured social safety nets that now extend from the family to the school, and the whole community. The result is that about half of families are now informed and aware of child protection mechanisms in the CINI area. These are the findings of Harvard University which, with its field research of the CINI Method in West Bengal for 3 months, has reached particularly flattering conclusions. In addition to preventing early school leaving, malnutrition, early marriages, abuse and trafficking of children, the CINI Method has made it possible for children and adolescents to participate through organized groups in the social change of their communities.
The value of CINI’s work therefore lies in having identified prevention as a priority before damage is inflicted on the young and the adolescent child, sometimes forever. By creating new generations of informed and aware citizens, through educational and local planning paths, this methodology becomes a strategy for implementing children’s rights at the community level, where all policies seek to reach but have no methodology to do so. Child in Need Institute (CINI), in partnership with the Government, has succeeded in it.

With 46 years of experience in the field, CINI is in fact contributing with deserved success to the achievement of children’s rights goals set by the country. Thanks to CINI’s preventive approach which has managed to strengthen the Government’s child protection system and has been given scientific evidence today by Harvard University with a full-bodied research study.

Harvard University study in their final evaluation “Before Not After” states that “CINI’s harm prevention approach is ambitious. It represents an attempt to radically transform the child protection system upwards from the local level. CINI’s vision, that the creation of child friendly communities is the critical building block for transformation in social responses to children and child protection, are both inspiring and impressive.”
Professor Jacqueline Bhabha, Director of the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights and co-author of the “Before Not After” Research Report said “Across the world today, millions of children continue to be exposed to severe abuse, violence and exploitation because early risk warnings are ignored. As a global society, we should be paying much more attention to strengthening child protection systems before, not after children are harmed. The Indian non-profit CINI’s work illustrates well the work that lies ahead”.
On this occasion Soumitra Chatterjee said, “It is a proud moment for all of us. A Bengal’s NGO getting such recognition internationally is a matter of pride for us. I congratulate Dr Samir Chaudhuri and entire team of CINI for this achievement. I am looking forward to their continuous work for the betterment of mother and child healthcare in the state.”

Founder and Secretary, CINI, Dr. Samir Chaudhuri said, “Being studied by Harvard University is an opportunity to see the CINI Method recognized at international level. This is an approach, we believe, that can show a new, more effective, ethical and cost-effective way to solving problems of children in India and in the world.
Thanks to these results, we will be able to promote our method further in our country and beyond in contexts of severe vulnerabilities where we are still struggling to walk the last mile for children.”