Children losing their innocence is one thing but losing out on their age…is totally unacceptable.

The beach is where one goes to catch up with old friends, enjoy the breeze, experience the peace and tranquility… While doing all this fun stuff, you don't want to see anything unpleasant; something that might disturb you. Unfortunately, it happened to me.

Many acts

Around 4.00 p.m on Sunday, a few of us decided to go the Besant Nagar beach. Right next to the shore was a tent-like structure. I was very amused to find something like this so close to the water. However, I found a little girl, probably 6 years of age, come out from nowhere and start doing cartwheels. For a second I thought I was hallucinating. Her next stunt was to come in and out of a small hula hoop. She twisted and turned her limbs in all directions possible like the rubber man.

Then came her “hit performance”. She climbed the tent-like structure, held a pole (for balance, I suppose) and walked on the line. There was a heavy breeze. Chances were that she would fall off the line, head first. But nobody cared. At one point, I was so angry with myself for not being able to do anything about it. Then again, there was nothing I could do without an official — a police officer or an NGO representative — with me.

Finally she balanced a bottle on her head and spun a steel wheel in her feet and rolled to the other side of the line.

We have kids perform such acts at some big signals in the city, but I was shaken to see it in such close proximity. Most of us chose to ignore such displays. This, according to me is a form of child labour. Her family uses the child to entertain the visitors to the beach and earn some money. On one hand, we have different laws and policies and on the other hand, we have people violating it.

Child labour can have adverse effects on the child as well as the nation. Two major black marks against India are child labour and abuse. It is our responsibility as citizens to take the lead and do something about the condition of children. It would be silly to say that we can put an end to child labor and abuse. But you can try and do what you can. If ever you see any form of child labour in your locality, call Childline: 1098 (Day and Night). Every drop makes an ocean. Show them you care.

Smriti is a Ist Year student of MS Communication Studies at Christ University, Bangalore.

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