Staff Reporter

The helpline receives an average of 6,000 calls a month. In Ernakulam district alone, Childline has received 1,92,799 calls in the last eight years.

KOCHI: Most people would scoff at the idea of a helpline for children. It is mostly thought that children need help outside the home environment — in school or on the road. But many forget that sometimes children seek help to face the situation at home.

While Childline, a project of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has been providing a helpline at the toll-free number 1098 to children across nine districts in Kerala for the last eight years, a theme to promote the idea was launched internationally by Child Helpline International in October 2003.

Childline has also been involved in rehabilitation of children in distress as it closely works with the Child Welfare Committee and the Juvenile Justice Board in all the nine districts where Childline is available.

But, even now many children, who are supposed to pick up the phone and call the number if they need help, are perhaps unaware of such a helpline.

For this, Childline had started forming Childline Clubs at the school level since last year as part of the theme called Connecting Children. The theme continues this year too.

It was found by Childline that it is more effective to reach out to children through such clubs in school where they get to know about the helpline through their peers.

Maithri

In yet another effective programme, Childline in association with Maithri — a suicide prevention unit run by volunteers, had reached out to children in 316 schools in the district focussing on classes VIII, IX and X.

Childline could address quite a few cases of child abuse and attend to few other distressed children through the programme. There have been an increase in the number of calls received at Childline, said Antony Jinoy, district co-ordinator of Childline. The helpline receives an average of 6,000 calls a month. In Ernakulam district alone, Childline has received 1,92,799 calls in the last eight years.

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