VISAKHAPATNAM : The Childline helpdesk at the Vizag railway station, since its inception one month ago, has registered at least 25 runaway and missing complaints.
The helpdesk was set up to rescue and protect runaway, missing, separated and unaccompanied children. The Society for Assistance to Children in Difficult Situation (SATHI), an NGO, which has been working for rescuing and rehabilitation of runaway children found at the railway stations has been entrusted with the responsibility of managing the helpdesk at the city railway station, in collaboration with the Childline.
“Some passengers are now bringing the runaway and missing cases to our notice. We had six runaway cases only on Monday. In most of the cases, the children are found to be from various places in Andhra Pradesh, while 10 and odd cases from other states have been reported so far,” said John Peter, the coordinator.
Adding to it, he said: “We house the rescued children in our shelter home near the Railway New Colony for five days. During counselling of those children, we try to know their family background and about their parents. Most runaway children are from the families belonging to poor financial backgrounds. Frustrated over the petty fights at families, negligence of parents and alcohol addiction of family members, they stop their education and run away from home,” he explained.
The Help Desk, which operates 24X7 at the city railway station, has three volunteers, five staff who work on the platforms. The Childline staff also keep an eye on trains.
“Sometimes we travel by trains till Duvvada to identify children on the way and bring them back to the shelter homes,” said Malathi, a member of Sathi.
According to the Childline officials, the number of child begging cases have decreased in the city. Not more than five to six cases are reported in a month now, when compared to the at least 30 cases earlier, they said.