NEW DELHI: The number of distress calls received by the national helpline for children has increased three-fold in the last four years. In 2017-18, over crore calls were received by the helpline and direct intervention was provided in nearly 7 lakh case, the Lok Sabha was informed in response to a question.
“Calls received by the child helpline number during the last four years have increased more than three-fold. Childline (1098) had answered 38,22,081 calls in the year 2013-14, which increased to 1,15,59,750 calls in the year 2017-18,” Union Women and Child Development Ministry informed the House. Of all the calls, about 7 lakh required direct intervention in the form of medical help, shelter, restoration, protection from abuse, sponsorship etc.
“As per need of the child, assistance is provided with support of stakeholders. Out of these, direct intervention was provided in 2,18,266 cases, where appropriate immediate help was given to the children and they were connected to service delivery set up under the relevant law,” the government said in its reply.
Childline, claimed the government, has an average response time of an hour. The child in need of help or care is sent to the protection agencies — police, hospitals, child welfare homes and hospitals — run by the government as well as civil society agencies.
Sources in the ministry said that maximum complaints come from children in the age group of 11-14 years and that 60 per cent of them are boys.
“Not all of them need to be rescued; some just call to seek help and counselling for coping with exam pressure or for things as small as fights at home with their parents,” an official explained. The helpline operates six units across five cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Bengaluru — in partnership with 750 NGOs, the official added.