Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi today called for a mass movement to make schools in the country safer for children.
He also termed the killing of the seven-year-old boy by a bus conductor at a school in Gurgaon for resisting sexual abuse, "shameful and disgusting".
Interacting with children from various schools in this district as part of his 'Bharat Yatra', which began yesterday, he said the notions of childhood and child rights should be part of the nation's culture and consciousness.
"Schools are supposed to be safe havens for children. Schools will be safer only if there is a mass movement against child abuse," Satyarthi said when a student asked him about the incident in the Gurgaon school.
Starting from the southernmost tip of peninsular India, Kanyakumari, and passing through Kashmir, the Bharat Yatra will culminate in New Delhi on October 16. It aims to mobilise action against sexual abuse and trafficking of children.
The country has no choice other than speaking out against child abuse, Sathyarthi said adding if the society continues with its silence, it would only help strengthen the abusers.
When the problem of abuse becomes a "moral epidemic", the society cannot simply tolerate it, but has to act, he said, adding if the society keeps on hiding the problem, it would become much worse.
About on his 'Bharat Yatra' mission, Satyarthi said it is a "non-violent war" against violence, rape, abuse and trafficking of children.
The Nobel laureate said it is the largest ever social movement on the issue in the history of the country and urged every child to be a part of it.
The activist, during the interactions with school students, said he supports imparting education to children in their mother tongue and termed child labour as a social evil and a crime.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who took part in the event organised by the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, wished that Satyarthi's march would be a turning point in putting an end to the menace of child abuse.
No society can grow without creating an environment that fosters the growth of children, Vijayan said.
"We are living at a time when violence against children is on the rise. Child labour is also prevailing in many parts. A comprehensive awareness is needed against this," Vijayan said.
Kerala minister for health and social justice K K Shylaja, state child rights panel chief Shobha Koshy and state chief secretary K M Abraham were also present at the event.