The children were all dropouts and will be enrolled in schools under a special programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

As many as 23 child and adolescent workers employed in commercial establishments and streetside shops in the Main Guard Gate and Chatram Bus Stand areas were rescued on Sunday and were produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) on Monday.

A team comprising officials from the Labour Department, National Child Labour Project (NCLP), Childine and Child Welfare Committee (CWC), raided shops along N.S.B.Road, Chathram Bus Stand, and Singarthope. The children were retrieved from fast food joints, stationery shops, and street vendors, said Albert Manoharan, Childline centre coordinator. The Child Welfare Committee (CWC) conducted an inquiry and facilitated restoration and rehabilitation. Of the 23 rescued, 18 children above the age of 14 were restored to their parents who were warned against sending children for work before they attain the age of 18, said Thiyagarajan, Childline district coordinator. They were let off with counselling as the Child Labour Prohibition Act defines child workers as a child below 14. The children were all dropouts and would be enrolled in schools under a special programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, said Pearline, project director, CHEERS, the district arm of the National Child Labour Project (NCLP). CHEERS would follow up on the rehabilitation of the children and ensure they finish school.

Of the five under custody of CWC, four are adolescent interstate workers, detained under involvement in suspected trafficking. An 8-year- old is under the custody of CWC. While the adolescent boys were accommodated at SOCSEAD’s temporary shelter, they were shifted to HOPE worldwide, a government reception unit as three minor girls rescued from child marriage attempts were sheltered there on Monday night.

Meanwhile, Childline and district social welfare office intervened to foil child marriage attempts on Monday night. The children and their parents would be produced before the District Collector on Tuesday, sources said.