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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Jul 2014

1098 child helpline popular, but genuine calls very few

Monica Sharma , Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 06, 2014
First Published: 11:34 IST(6/5/2014) | Last Updated: 11:40 IST(6/5/2014)

The child helpline number 1098 is becoming popular day by day, but all calls that are made on this helpline are not genuine. The number is often used by youngsters to pass their time, crack jokes or even create false alarms.

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The data shared by the helpline executives reflects an increase in number of calls. For the past over two years, around 8,600 calls have been received by the helpline.

However, the number o f calls has increased in the past one year. In 2012, if there were around 1,200 calls, the number went up to 4,600 in 2013. The complaints, according to sources, range from abuse, sexual harassment and even children going missing.

The data further revealed that out of around 1,200 calls, only about 150 were genuine while the rest were prank calls. The trend continued in 2013 also when out of 4,600 calls, only 440 were genuine in which children highlighted their problems. Till March this year, the helpline had received around 2,100 calls, of which 2,077 were fake.

The help line is manag e d by the NGO Childline India Foundations as a part of publicprivate partnership. The project is funded by the gover nment under t he Integrate d Chil d Protection Scheme.

Elaborating Nishit Kumar, head of communication and strategic initiatives of Childline India Foundations, said, “The helpline is being used by children to highlight any kind of abuse they face. The children also talk about the marital dispute between their parents and how it was affecting their studies. The helpline was started in 1996 to provide assistance to children who are facing any kind of abuse problem.”

Kumar added, “The problem which the control room 100 faces is also being faced by the executives attending call of 1098. Some people misbehave with the female callers after hearing their voice. The helpline also keeps getting prank and abusive calls.”

Madhuri, one of the supervisors of helpline 1098, said, “The centralised system of calls is based in Mumbai. After we get a call, the authority concerned is informed about the incident for follow-up action. In case the address is not provided by the child, after checking the number, the mapping of area is done to identify from where the call originated. Within one hour the number is flashed to the city concer ned, where its child welfare committee look into the complaint. In some areas, the locals NGOs are also approached.”

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