Navi Mumbai: Childline 1098 gets 400 calls on child issues since April 2020
From April 2020 to August 2021, the Navi Mumbai centre of Childline 1098 government helpline run by YUVA centre, an NGO connected with Child Welfare Committee (CWC), has received around 400 calls.
According to the centre coordinator, Vijay Kharat, with the onset of lockdown last year, the calls were more of physical and emotional abuse of children locked up at home. Meanwhile, after unlock began, they got calls for child labour and children begging on the roads. Over the last few months, incidents of sexual abuse have been reported.
When the lockdown started in March 2020, the children were locked up at their respective homes with frustration building among adults as well as children. “During those times, the calls were mostly about children wanting to be on mobile phones playing games and watching videos the whole day. Many calls were from children themselves complaining against their parents who did not give them a phone. A teenage boy complained that the mother shouted at him and denied him mobile phone. When we spoke to the mother, she told us that he watched too much of mobile. We then counselled him and made him understand that he should be obeying his mother,” Kharat said.
There were also calls from parents complaining about children not listening to them and children complaining about physical abuse on them.
Kharat added that, in some cases, neighbours too called to inform about children being hit by their parents. “Neighbours usually made calls listening to the cries of the child. We then speak to the parents as well as the child. The frustration of parents during the lockdown was taken out on the children. Thus, cases of physical abuse increased,” he said.
The children between 12 and 16 years faced maximum issues of mobile phone addiction and those from age 8 years to 14 years faced physical abuse.
The centre handles cases from Airoli to Belapur and occasionally from Kharghar to Panvel when the Raigad centre volunteers are unable to make it to the spot.
According to Poonam Nalawade, forensic psychologist, the issues faced by children mostly depended on the socio-economic background of the child, the parenting style and the kind of people the child lives with.
“It is very important that every child is aware of the childline number 1098 so that they themselves can report to the helpline if they face any abuse or witness anything wrong. In most cases, the child is not aware where to seek help from. A child once came to know that in 1098, children could call and share anything they wanted to and the child then called up and told them that he was being sexually abused by a friend.”
She added most of the time, children are afraid of parents and hesitate to share their issues and hence it was important to spend time with children. “Parents need to talk to children about good things and bad things. This can help children to learn and understand how to express themselves. A child always shows signs and cues while facing depression or anxiety just like how an adult shows. Rejecting food, being afraid of meeting any particular person, hating a person, having nightmares could be some of the signs of a child facing abuse,” Nalawade said.
Most children see the world in good terms, so they only want things that give them joy. “In the past one year, children have faced a huge lifestyle change with being locked up in homes, no friends and no school. It has led to psychological issues that need to be addressed in the right way by trying to strike a conversation with them,” she added.