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In order to safeguard children in movies, TV shows, reality shows, social media and OTT platforms from physical and psychological stress while guaranteeing a healthy work environment, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has developed draught rules.

According to the proposed regulatory standards, producers must get a district magistrate's approval before including a child in a shoot and include a statement about the precautions they took to make sure the youngster hadn't been subjected to abuse or exploitation.

The rules prohibit placing children in roles or circumstances that are unsuitable or upsetting while saying that age, maturity, emotional or psychological development, and sensitivity must be taken into account. Production facilities must make sure that the workplace is secure and that kids aren't exposed to hazardous lighting, irritating chemicals, or tainted cosmetics.

No child should be permitted to labour for more than 27 consecutive days, according to the law. Under the Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act of 1976, the youngster must work one shift per day, with breaks every three hours, and cannot be forced to sign an agreement to perform any services as a bonded labourer.

The children shouldn't be subjected to jeers or conduct that can harm their emotional wellbeing. The draught standards indicated that children should not be depicted drinking alcohol, smoking, engaging in anti-social behaviour, or acting in any other delinquent ways.

It states that no child should participate in any nudity-related activities and that programmes based on abused children should be handled delicately.

The producer must make sure that the schooling of the kids involved in the shooting won't suffer. The draft policy specifies that a youngster who is exempted from school due to involvement in the entertainment industry must be instructed by a private tutor chosen by the producer.

A minimum of 20% of the child's earnings from the production or event must be promptly put into a fixed deposit account in the child's name at a nationalised bank to be credited when the youngster reaches adulthood.

The draft 'Regulatory Guidelines for Child Participation in the Entertainment Industry' covers television programmes, including reality shows, TV serials, news and informative media, movies, content on OTT platforms and social media, performing arts, advertising or any other kind of involvement of children in commercial entertainment activities.

It has to be ensured that facilities are appropriate to the age and needs of each child and they should not be made to share dressing spaces or rooms with adults, especially of the opposite sex.

"Media and production houses shall ensure that child victims of rape, other sexual offences, trafficking, drug abuse, elopement, organized crimes, and children used in armed conflicts... are guaranteed anonymity for life."

The draft mentions strict penal provisions, including fines and imprisonments in case of violation of the guidelines.

"In the absence of any monitoring mechanism, the children in the industry are at grave risk of exploitation because they lack the legal right to the earnings they generate, or safe working conditions and adequate protections via labour laws.

"Participating in an adult-oriented industry, children are often exposed to unsuitable, anxiety-inducing, and at times, dangerous operational hazards and situations," the draft said.

Although several laws are in place, there are no specific regulations or rules for the protection of child artists in the adult-dominated industry.

"Hence, the NCPCR has observed the need to frame guidelines, especially for children involved in films, TV, reality shows, OTT platforms, news and content creation for social media websites so that there may be some sort of easily comprehensible procedure for all stakeholders involved to make them aware of the repercussions of violating any right of the child," the document said.

Since the last guidelines issued by the panel in 2011, there have been many amendments to related laws. Also, some new laws have been enacted protecting children from crimes under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, Child Labour Amendment Act, 2016, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

"Therefore, the need to bring other platforms under the ambit of these guidelines has been realised," the draft stated.

(With PTI inputs)

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