Child helpline receives double the usual number of calls amid lockdown
The district child helpline has received more than twice the number of calls during the ongoing lockdown than it usually does with regards to the nutrition of children.
The data obtained by Hindustan Times showed that 220 calls were made to the district child helpline, 1098, between March 16 and April 26. This means that more than five calls were received per day.
“This is more than twice the normal call volume that we face everyday. On an average, we receive about 70-80 calls per month. However, the last few days have seen a significant increase in the numbers,” said Satya Prakash, programme manager, FXB India Suraksha, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that manages the district helpline. Of the total calls the came in, at least 39.5% were nutrition-related calls.
“Most people in the need of dry ration or essential services are getting raw uncooked food in the form of care packages, containing rice, flour, etc. from the administration, the police or other sources. However, most of the calls coming to us are for nutrition products for kids, such as milk and milk-based supplements. In the last 40 days, 87 such calls have been made,” said Prakash.
This, however, does not mean that calls for food are not coming in. On an average, 56 calls are made related to food supplies, while 23 call are related to coronavirus-related cases.
At the same time, calls related physical and sexual abuse of children continue to pour in. Thirteen child abuse cases have been reported to the helpline while 12 calls have been made for the care and protection of children.
“One positive effect of the lockdown is that there has been a reduction in the number of cases of children being lost. There were two instances of kids running away and seven of kids being lost and five children being found,” said Prakash. The figures are less than the usual number of calls received during normal times.
Due to industries and private establishments being shutdown, the number of cases pertaining to child labour has also gone down to just two in the past 40 days.
“There have been two reported instances of child marriage. Yesterday, we got a call from a 16-year-old girl, who alleged that she had been brought to Noida from Gorakhpur some time back. She wasn’t very clear on the details but it seemed to be a case of child marriage. Upon checking, it was found that her family had not filed any missing case back home. She is now recuperating at the shelter home,” said Prakash.
With Sunday being Akshay Tritiya, the department is also on high alert for any child marriage cases in the district as per the orders by the district probation officer. The helpline is required to submit information about any such cases to the government by April 28. However, by Sunday evening, no calls had come in to the helpline regarding the same. Other reasons for calls include education of children, care and protection, counselling, shelter requirement etc.