Police complaint boxes set up in the rural and city schools to help children file complaints against physical and mental abuses are yet to evoke positive response even several months after the introduction of the facility.
In the last six months, the complaint boxes received less than 15 complaints, which indicate the lack of awareness among the targeted group on the most effective service.
Though the complaints received are a few, it does not imply that the children are free from abuses. During the term, over 10 complaints were reported directly to the police from various city and rural schools, in which the teachers, parents, and friends were held responsible. Strangely, the school that emerged as the centre of the recent Panthirikkara sex racket case at Peruvannamoozhi too had a complaint box.
According to officials of the District Crime Records Bureau (DCRB), Vadakara, who monitor the facility, there are over 130 drop boxes at various educational institutions. On a weekly basis, they are opened for inspection under the headship of the Circle Inspector concerned, but the response still remains poor.
Although some of the students have shown guts to use the facility, the complaints dropped in the boxes are silly in nature and mostly related to small issues which could be settled by the class teachers concerned. From the city schools, majority of the complaints are related to traffic violations and the rude behaviour of conductors. However, these have been dealt with seriously by the local police to win the confidence of the students.
The main reason for the poor response to the facility, according to police officials, is that students are afraid of revealing their identity in the course of inquiry. “This is absolutely wrong and we do not reveal the personal details of any complainants and disclose the nature of complaints,” a senior official in-charge of monitoring the facility, said. He said that complaints which could be settled at the school itself would not be taken outside for unwanted police inquiries. On the other hand, students clubs and counselling services launched by the Childline India Foundation have somehow gained the confidence of students as they have helped to expose a number of physical and mental exploitations.
In the city limit alone, there are 20 such clubs, which also make use of special student safety cards to report their grievances on time to the authorities concerned.
“The period between April 1 and October 31, the Childline India foundation brought to light 12 sexual abuse cases in which majority had the direct involvement of parents,” Mohammedali M.P., city coordinator of the Childline, said. Four fathers and a mother had been held responsible in connection with these cases exposed through counselling and other information exchange programmes. It exposed 29 physical abuse cases in which 11 fathers and seven mothers were pulled up. Nine teachers from various schools too were caught in connection with various cases.