The central government’s helpline number under the Women and Child Welfare Department — 1098 — has got a good response in the state and city. With 10-15 calls daily from children in Pune, Childline Helpline Services Director Anuradha Sahasrabuddhe said the helpline is functioning well. “Many calls are related to physical and sexual abuse of children. The Pune operations started in 2001 and, in the last 14 years, the number of calls has steadily risen,” Sahasrabuddhe said.
Earlier, the calls were directly received by the Pune office, but with the volume of calls on the rise, the department has started a western region call centre, where calls are received and then directed to the city. “This has become more streamlined,” she said.
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“Initially, many calls were just emotional outbursts, but slowly children are calling the helpline and reporting abuse,” Sahasrabuddhe said.
The department had initiated the concept under the Integrated Child Protection Services and slowly it spread to all cities in the country. Childline services are operated by either some academic organisation or a non-governmental body. Statistics put up by Childline India Foundation, which launched the country’s first toll-free tele-helpline for children in distress in 1996, states there have been 36 million calls since inception and it operates in 346 cities/districts and in 33 states through its network of over 600 partner organisations across the country.