Child helpline completes a decade

1098 received 6.4 lakh calls in 2012-13

Child helpline completes  a decade

Putting her troubled past behind, this teenager is slowly returning to a normal life. A victim of child abuse, an anonymous call to the child helpline was the catalyst in her rescue that changed her life.

Leela (name changed), 13, has been under the tutelage of a civil rights group, Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA), for the last two years. Even though she hails from West Bengal, her impeccable Kannada is sure to deceive her origins.

“I am really grateful and thankful to the organisation. I am glad that I am able to study now,” Leela said when several NGOs in the City came together earlier this week to mark the decade of existence of the child helpline (1098) in the State.

Life was not rosy for her. Working as a domestic help before being rescued, Leela faced severe physical and mental harassment at the hands of her employers, a couple employed in the IT sector. Had it not been for that anonymous call to the child helpline that day, she may have had to endure more trauma.

Intervention

The occasion was also a time to introspect the growing number of cases of child abuse and harassment. In the last six months, there have been 2,000 calls for intervention. “On an average, the helpline gets five calls daily and the number of calls we are receiving is rising fast with every passing year,” said Father George P S, executive director, Bosco, one of the partnering organisations of childline.

Of the 6.4 lakh calls that the helpline received between 2002 and 2013, as many as 13,770 calls were for intervention.

Bosco statistics show that 4,263 children have been rehabilitated in homes managed by it and other institutions in 2005-06. This figure jumped to 7,306 in 2011-12. “A large number of these children were rescued as a result of calls made to the helpline,” said Fr George.  

While awareness of the childline has definitely increased manifold, there is a lot to do in the years to come with the help of partner and government agencies, according to G Nagasimha Rao, director, Child Right Trust, the nodal agency for childline.

The recent initiative to publicise the helpline number in schools has raised more awareness. “We still need help in the form of more infrastructure and funds to carry out our work. Training and awareness programmes also need to be increased.” said Rao.

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