Four metros, 2.5 lakh abusive calls. All from children.
A survey of 1098, the only Centre-run child helpline in the country, shows that a huge number of urban children dial the number just to hurl abuse at nameless, faceless counsellors in a distant call centre.
Studying the 19 lakh calls the helpline received in 2006-07 in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata, the Central government found 2.57 lakh calls were abusive, and 1.55 lakh callers dialled simply to chat. Abusive calls form the largest category once one sorts out an overwhelming number of blank calls and ‘wrong-number’ dialling.
<b1>Mumbai tops the metros with 86,979 abusive calls, followed by Delhi with 29,806 and Kolkata and Chennai with 3,120 and 1,934. The most number of chat calls come from Mumbai (31,173) too, followed by 16,869 from Delhi and 4,696 from Kolkata.
The findings of the report have still not been officially released.
And although about 70 per cent of abusive callers live with their families, experts say the children do not have anybody to listen to their emotional needs.
"These children are failing to cope with emotional disturbances. They do not know how to react and nobody lends an ear. To vent their anger, they abuse an unknown person, trying to shed the load off their minds," said counsellor Santosh Dhamane of Yuva, one of the four non-governmental organisations that run the Mumbai call centre.
Dhamane, who had attended to many such calls, said most of these children, after being counselled, shared their agony and often apologised for the invectives. "They turn perfectly courteous. It is often an unattended emotional trauma or simple loneliness that drives them crazy and they do not know how to deal with it. So, they piggyback on abuses," he said.
Yusuf Macheswalla, president of Bombay Psychiatric Association, said: "The children are left with no companions, parents have no time and even schools do not have counsellors."
He urged parents to not "flood children with goodies and instead spend quality time with them".