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Street and runaway children

Introduction

Often in cities, we see children at railway stations, bus depots, footpaths and public places, roaming about aimlessly, begging or picking up rags. Many such children are homeless or stay by themselves. Some of these children have run away from their homes probably due to the glamour of cities, peer pressure, duress at home, physical abuse or even being abandoned by their parents. Many of these runaway children are not able to eat a proper meal and in some instances are trapped in the clutches of petty criminals and human traffickers. These children are vulnerable to bad company and drug addiction, and end up committing petty crimes, begging and peddling drugs.

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What the law says about street and runaway children

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2015 protects children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law. According to the law, children who are homeless, deprived of livelihood opportunities, without parents or guardians, orphans or abandoned by parents etc. are included in this category.

According to the law every state government is supposed to constitute one or more child welfare committees for every district or group of districts to deal with cases for the care, protection and rehabilitation of children in need of protection.

Role of panchayat members in reduce the street and runaway children

If a child has run away from home in the village, panchayat members should immediately inform the police and establish a child line to support children. If the police or non-governmental organisation find the runaway child and return him to the parents, the panchayat members should talk to the child and parents and find out why he/ she made the attempt to run away. They should create an enabling environment in the child’s family.

The panchayat members, along with other panchayats of the district, should establish a child welfare committee and Juvenile Justice Board. They should also introduce maximum people to the child line established for support of children.

Source : NCPCR Handbook on Safe Childhood Programme for Panchayat members



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