Tamil Nadu

Calls to School Education Department’s helpline go up manifold

Awareness posters on the toll-free ‘14417’ counselling helpline for school students being launched in Erode in Tamil Nadu on December 1   | Photo Credit: Govarthan. M

After the School Education Department publicised its 14417 helpline among students, the number of calls has increased from an average of 300-400 a day to 1,100. With the cases of sexual offences against students surfacing recently, the Department has been promoting its helpline number as well as the 1098 ChildLine among students, encouraging them to report any incident of sexual abuse or harassment.

School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi has said both the numbers will soon be printed in all textbooks. But some districts have already begun stamping the numbers on the books of the students.

“While we usually get 300-400 calls a day, the number can go up to 600 when the admissions begin under the RTE Act as parents call in with questions. Over the last two weeks, however, we have had a significant increase in the number of calls, mostly from parents who ask us about the process of filing a complaint of sexual abuse or harassment and how we plan to handle such complaints,” said Paul Robinson, Operations Head, 14417 Education Information Centre.

He said the information centre had not yet received calls from parents or students raising a complaint of child sexual abuse or harassment.

“We are, however, prepared to handle such complaints. We have a team of 10 counselling officers who are psychologists; they can speak to people who call in. They now handle calls on exam anxiety and stress, or any issue students may have with parents or teachers,” Mr. Robinson said. The complaints will then be forwarded to the School Education Department, and the Chief Educational Officers concerned will be alerted.

Furthermore, there are 14 response officers handing general information to parents and students.

After the schools reopened for Classes I-VIII a month ago, officials at the helpline said they had also received calls from students about the violation of physical distancing norms on their campuses.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 1:44:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/calls-to-school-education-departments-helpline-go-up-manifold/article37797727.ece

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