Six-year-old Subhash, a resident of Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, ran away from home after accusing his parents of mistreating him.
Railway Police Force personnel later found the boy crying in a train at the city’s railway station and handed him over to Childline India, an NGO engaged in helping children in distress, on July 11.
A 12-year-old-girl who had been reported missing by her parents in Uttarakhand was found by the police near Payal.
At first she tried to mislead the cops by making up fake stories but when Childline volunteers who were called in investigated the matter they learnt she run away from her home because of an abusive stepmother.
These are just two of the thousands of cases of runaway children who left their homes, often for seemingly trivial reasons. And the number of such kids is rising by the day.
“Railway Protection Force (RPF) cops have caught at least 18 minor children at the city train station so far this year; the figure was 38 last year. Most of these kids fled home because they felt their family members did not treat them well or were too authoritarian,” said RPF inspector Yashwant Singh.
“The number of runaway kids has been steadily rising during the past few years. I niti al ly t hey l e ave t heir homes just for pleasure but after a few days find it difficult to survive on the streets. I’ve also come across a few who were ready to work as rag pickers to avoid going back home. Most of these children found at the city’s train station”, Yashwant added.
“Childline is engaged in assisting an average of 16 minor children every month in Ludhiana and half of them are those who have run away ran from their homes”, said Arvind Kumar, the NGO’s centre coordinator for the city.
“Some of the excuses that they give us for leaving home are insignificant like parents putting pressure on them to study or not giving them mobiles or other things they have demanded. However, with proper counseling we are able to send back 80 percent of the runaways to their homes.”
Dr BP Mishra, a psychologist at the city’s Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, agreed the number of runaway children was increasing by the day.
“Parents as well as schools have miserably failed in their responsibility to inculcate moral values and discipline in children, who now have more exposure and want to be more independent,” he added.