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Rescuing the children runaways at a railway junction

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Assistance Booth is a joint initiative of Tiruchi Railway Division and two non-governmental organisations

In the last week of October, a 15-year-old boy who ran away from home in Virudhunagar district was rescued at Tiruchi railway junction. The minor, who left for Chennai, initially came to Rockfort City and thereafter worked for nearly two months here before being rescued at the railway junction where he was spotted alone.During sustained counselling, the rescue team managed to make out why the minor fled his home. Efforts are now on to reunite him with his parents through the Child Welfare Committee. A few days later, a 16-year-old girl from Cuddalore district, who was found alone at the railway junction, was similarly rescued.

The girl left her home following a reported tiff with her parents. She was produced before the Child Welfare Committee and housed in a temporary home.In yet another instance, a 13-year-old boy studying here and staying in a hostel quit the place apparently aggrieved over the quality of food. The boy was in school uniform at the time of rescue. The three incidents are among many such instances of children being rescued at the Tiruchi railway junction where a Child Assistance Booth functions round the clock.The rescued children are either handed over to the Railway Protection Force or to the Government Railway Police as per procedure prior to being produced before the Child Welfare Committee. Functioning for over one-and-half-years now at the busy junction, the Child Assistance Booth, a joint initiative of Tiruchi Railway Division and two non-governmental organisations, Railway Children India and Sevai, has rescued several runaway minors found wandering at the station. This year, the Child Assistance Booth has rescued 735 minors — a majority of whom are runaway children — till date. A majority of them are boys, says a representative of the assistance booth.Another representative says the reasons for children leaving their homes have been found to be varied. Interaction with them shows that conflict with parents and teachers, domestic problem, separated parents, lack of parental care and inability to cope with studies are among factors that trigger the fleeing.

The Child Assistance Booth has a team of social workers and outreach workers working round-the-clock in three shifts at the junction. While the outreach workers rescue the runaways, the social workers examine the immediate needs of such minors. The rescued minors are brought to the booth and their immediate needs are addressed to put them at ease.

Usually, such children are found with a wavering mind engulfed by a sense of anxiety and loneliness.It is for this reason that they are made to feel comfortable through pep talk and handed over to the Government Railway Police or Railway Protection Force as per procedure and from thereon to the Child Welfare Committee for initiating further steps, the representative said.

There have also been instances where the rescued minor have hailed from north Indian States. for example, a few months ago, a 13-year-old boy from Chhattisgarh was rescued at the junction. The boy apparently left his home unable to withstand the work pressure. Instances of minors quitting their homes due to unfulfilled desires have also been reported. In one case, parents’ refusal to buy a mobile phone was found to be a reason, says the representative.

A proper follow-up is carried out once the children are reunited with their parents under the instructions of the Child Welfare Committee. Child rights activist and advocate S. Martin says all efforts should be taken to restore the runaway children with their parents after following due procedures.“Counselling should be provided to the child and parents during the restoration process. If the child is not inclined to stay with the parents, they should be given safe shelter to pursue education and constantly motivated to go home. Parents should understand the sentiments of their child and spend adequate time with them to prevent such tendencies from creeping in the minor,” he says.

Schools and the counsellors they engage should provide an atmosphere conducive for the child to express problems and issues, he adds.

(source : The Hindu)

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