Madurai

Lack of counsellors at 48 childcare institutions

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It results in vulnerable students coping with society by themselves

MADURAI

There is a lack of part-time and full-time counsellors to provide support and awareness at the 48 childcare institutions in the district, leaving vulnerable students to cope with society by themselves, say experts.

Madurai District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Chairman M. Vijayasaravanan says that a total of 41 counsellors have been appointed who function part time.

He says they make two visits per week and are available on call. However, he says that there is often disinterest among counsellors to take up full-time roles.

A source from the CWC on condition of anonymity says that there are instances where counsellors barely make the rounds in homes with sanctioned inmate strength of seven and actual strength of three students, proving that there is a disinterest in visiting homes with a few number of children. “Only about five counsellors regularly provide awareness in the government homes. The situation in private homes is unclear,” he says. Part-time counsellors are recruited only for the sake of documentation, he adds.

Childline Director C. Jim Jesudas says the need arises for counselling children in need of care and protection.

Inmates of most homes include orphaned children, those who have been abandoned, vulnerable, children from the streets and those who have run away.

“Most of these children face grave situations and end up having heightened emotions. While some of them take to expressing their feelings overtly, many do not. This is when the need for a psychological assessment arises,” he says.

The psychological assessments usually look at trauma, threat, abandonment-related vulnerability and a look at the family situation.

“If periodic counselling is given for around 45 minutes to traumatised children, every alternate day and slowly weaned out, they can certainly be helped. After all, counselling is only a means for self-help and not an advice session,” he says.

He adds that if children are given counselling, then they will not hold on to their trauma and problems and will find healthy ways to manage themselves.

Rani Chakravarthy, a Madurai-based child psychologist and activist, says that instead of each home appointing counsellors of its own, the Child Welfare Committee could instead recruit a group of experts who would be able to report potential atrocities at homes without prejudice.

“These counsellors can be in-charge of three homes each and directly report to the CWC, making them a bridge between the CWC and the children and not the wardens who run the homes,” she says.

She adds that such efforts where counsellors provide child rights awareness, monitor homes and provide counselling will help in even preventing further cases of child sexual abuse and will increase instances where such cases are reported.

“Incidents like the recent case where a superintendent working at Russ Foundation was held for sexual abuse can be better identified if the CWC monitors the counsellors,” she says.

Dr. Vijayasaravanan says that there has been a drastic increase in the number of part-time counsellors from 23 to 41 in the last few years, which is an encouraging sign.

“A special training programme is arranged in January for the counsellors and wardens on handling children in homes,” he says.

He adds that they are collecting statistics for a wide range of issues to ensure that documentational lapses cease to exist.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 12:44:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/lack-of-counsellors-at-48-childcare-institutions/article30062733.ece

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