Does it take much to talk to a child living on the street to convince him or her to lead a better life? It does not only involve the right approach, but also the skills. It is for this sake, the Department of Social Work of Hindusthan College of Arts and Science held a five-day training for street educators handling street children.

Personnel from non-Government organisations (NGOs), Juvenile Justice Board, Child Welfare Committee, Don Bosco Anbu Illam, and other institutions, who dealt with such children, underwent the training that concluded on Friday.

M. Punitha, Head of the Department of Social Work, said that there was a need to formally educate the street educators on handling children on the streets by following correct procedures. The training included sessions and field visits to certain NGOs.

The participants, who were already dealing with street children, believed that the training was an eye-opener in terms of the formal procedures that existed when they had to deal with such children. Resource persons were from academia, law, District Child Protection Office, and the medical profession.

D. Suganthi from Don Bosco Anbu Illam, Coimbatore, said that though they regularly dealt with such children, it was difficult to convince all of them to leave the streets and live dignified lives, either with parents, or in shelters.

“There are different types of street children, some who live with the family, some who have run away from home, some who beg, and some who occasionally live on the streets. Each of them has to be dealt differently. The training has enabled us to gain some valuable inputs on the developmental stages of children and the communications principles to be used with them,” she said.

Complementing her view, I. Angeline, counsellor at ChildLine, said inputs from such programmes were valuable in dealing with some difficult cases and counselling the people concerned.

“There are two families living on a street in R.S. Puram for many months. Each family has nine children. We have counselled the parents many times to send the children to a shelter to enable them go to school. But we have not been able to convince them. The training included sessions on effective counselling skills that will help educators like us,” she said.

The visit to Mano Shanthi Family Counselling Centre, and Assisi Snehalaya, a home that takes care of children living with AIDS and HIV, also turned out to be fruitful experiences for the participants.

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