Tamil Nadu sets up child-friendly Police stations

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 Alphabets, numbers, and paintings that draw instant attention of children adore the wall and toys with which kids love playing fill the tiny room.

Don’t mistake these for a playschool. This is how the children’s room in three child-friendly police stations near Chennai look like. The novel idea of turning a room exclusively for children has been conceptualized to create a friendly environment for kids – several mothers who knock at the doors of the police stations for various reasons bring their children with them.

The rooms, which resemble a playschool, has every facility that a child needs – plenty of milk powder, electric kettle, biscuits, toys of different kind and diapers.

Three all-women police stations near Chennai – Tiruvallur, Uthukkottai, and Tiruttani – now boast of such child-friendly rooms, drawing commendation from almost everyone. Tiruvallur Police tied-up with the International Justice Mission (IJM) for this project. 

“We realized that more than 60 per cent of women who come to police stations for different reasons bring their children with them. And it causes difficulty to both the mother and the staff at the station. If the children have a separate room to play, their mothers can attend inquiry or their work in the police station without any worry,” Tiruvallur Superintendent of Police (SP) P Aravindan told DH.

Dr. M Devasitham, Associate Director, Strategic Development -- IJM, said the environment in a police station should not be intimidating to children. “It should be pleasing for the children who come to the room. Making it look like a playschool by spreading out toys allows children to spend their time happily,” he said.

Out of 1,200 women who came to the all-women police stations in the district till October, more than 700 people brought their kids with them, Aravindan said, adding that the novel measure was taken after going through the statistics.

He also said women constables in all-women police stations have been trained to handle children. “The room has almost everything the child needs. Apart from toys, we have made available an electric kettle that can be used to heat water for the child. We have got a good response so far,” Aravindan added.

Devasitham said such initiatives would also help children change their perception of police stations. “Such rooms can also be used to gather information from children who are in conflict with the law. The atmosphere matters a lot. And the Juvenile Justice Act does talk about friendly approach while dealing with children in conflict with the law,” he added.

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