The only dedicated helpline for children, Childline 1098, running successfully for the past 26 years as a partnership between civil society and the government, will be integrated with national emergency number 112.
About the new circular:
The Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD) has decided to integrate the Child Helpline (1098) with Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) with telephonic short code 112 and 112 India App and their linkage with District Child Protection Units (DCPUs) with the help of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
Childline 1098 has been a very effective and successful project, and is meant exclusively for children, unlike 112, which deals with emergencies related to police matters, health and women’s safety.
Civil Society fears that with the police becoming first responders to calls from children, there might be a drop in the reporting of offences.
Police personnel should not be the first responders as they can’t provide the support and counselling children need.
Childline units typically have a phone operator, who are sometimes children rescued from the streets, a social worker, or a counsellor.
Childline 1098 is not just an emergency helpline. It provides a range of services to children and, therefore, the transfer from MWCD to MHA is very odd.
Law and order issues constitute only a small chunk of the total cases handled by Childline.
Do You Know?
Childline 1098 was set up in 1996 as a project at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Childine is run as a private trust called Childline India Foundation which is funded by the Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD).