CAB crackdown on child begging in Kochi

The district Childline Advisory Board (CAB) has decided to crack the whip on child begging by conducting at least two special drives every month.

The decision comes in the wake of rising child begging cases since the pandemic. Three children, including a toddler, found used for begging by their sister were rescued by the Childline authorities from the Edappally metro station recently. The action was undertaken on the direction of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and the children, originally from Rajasthan, were moved to a shelter home.

“That operation had an almost immediate impact as the number of child begging cases dropped dramatically, leaving us with the impression that an organised and interconnected network is involved behind child begging. They seem to have sent the message across to lie low for the moment in the wake of the rescue mission. The hotels frequented and the mode of transport, including metro, used by handlers of child beggars also point to the presence of an organised network,” said Harikrishna S, Ernakulam Centre Coordinator, Childline.

Childline receives, on average, around 30 alerts of child begging from the public in a month. Rescuing children is often tough as the handlers take to heel with them through busy junctions with little regard for their safety at the first sign of a potential crackdown.

“KPCC Junction, Marine Drive, Vyttila and Edappally Junctions and Kaloor are places where child begging is rampant. Often children are found to be from States like Rajasthan, Odisha, Assam, and Tamil Nadu. The risk of unattended children getting caught in traffic and knocked down by motorists also remain high,” said Arun Thankachan, Childline district coordinator.

The sale of articles is often a ruse for using children for begging. A middleman who used to procure these from Delhi and offered them for sale along junctions were tracked down and warned by the authorities recently.

“Children from other States rescued from begging are moved to shelters temporarily and are then transferred to their home States through the respective CWC if they have relatives back there. In the case where their parents are also here, they would be restored with them. But where the immediate family is found to be extremely vulnerable, the children will be either kept in the care of shelter homes or given away in foster care with the consent of biological parents in view of their best interests,” said Bitty Joseph, Chairperson, CWC.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 8:29:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/cab-crackdown-on-child-begging-in-kochi/article37771590.ece

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