Tamil Nadu has the highest number of abandoned children — 1,550 from the ages of 7 to18 — living in child care institutions across the state, revealed a recent report released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The report, Mapping of Child Care Institutions under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, was conducted by Childline India Foundation and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), followed a survey of 9,589 children’s homes across the country. Tamil Nadu is followed by West Bengal abandoned children, and Karnataka, which has 729 such children.
The report said most of these children belonged to single parents R Vidyasagar, former child protection specialist, UNICEF, says state authorities should take remedial steps as Tamil Nadu also has a large number of unwed mothers, a situation that causes children to be abandoned.
The pan-India survey also covered homes that look after children in need of care and protection and those in conflict with the law. There are currently 7,422 children in conflict with the law and more than 3.7 lakh children in need of care and protection living in these homes across India.
Tamil Nadu alone has more than 87,000 children living in 1,647 homes. Of them, 5,994 children areorphans, and 217 had been surrendered. Of the 1,550 who were abandoned, 743 were girls Child welfare activists say one reason these numbers are so high is because Tamil Nadu has the highest number of childcare homes.
“But, despite all child protection schemes and welfare programmes, it is unfortunate that we continue to be plagued with these issues in this day and age,” Vidyasagar said.
As most of these children belong to single parents, “We also need to start teaching our children, both boys and girls, their reproductive rights right from school. We have found that children who are well aware of these rights are more mature and make responsible decisions. We also need to curb the growing child marriages reported in the state. There is no short term solution for this problem, we need to deal with it meticulously,” said Vidyasagar.