School children find ‘dosts’ in RPF
BOND FOR EVER: School students tie wristbands to Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel in the city on Tuesday. Photo: M. Moorthy | The Hindu

The first contact runaway children may make at railway stations is with the Railway Protection Force. Bringing together both entities at an event here on Tuesday, Childline encouraged children to shed their inhibitions over approaching men in uniform by introducing the RPF as ‘dosts’.

Around 180 railway protection force personnel, including first circle inspectors, assistant security commissioners, and inspectors representing various divisions in Tamil Nadu participated in the event organised as part of ‘Childline se dosti’ campaign. The nationwide campaign attempts to make citizens – auto drivers, police, professionals – ambassadors of child protection rights.

In a symbolic act of extending friendship, 40 children from Bharat Matriculation Higher Secondary School and Government High School in K.K.Nagar tied wristbands or ‘suraksha bandan’ to RPF personnel.

The act reassures children that the RPF are their friends and they will stand by them, said Godwin Prem Singh, director, Childline nodal organisation. More than 2,000 intervention calls to Childline in the last decade could be traced to RPF, said Albert Manoharan, coordinator, SOCSEAD, Childline collaborative agency.

Narrating an incident of a child who ran way from home, N.Vijayakumar, assistant security commissioner-indoor, RPF in-service training centre, cited parental pressure as a reason. Voluntary organisations play a pivotal role in child protection, said A.S.M.M. I. Hussain, assistant security commissioner-outdoor, RPF in-service training centre, citing the services rendered by Hope Worldwide Centre in Edamalaipatipudur that provides temporary shelter to children rescued by Childline.

Infants and newborns are entitled to rescue and rehabilitation services, said Indira Gandhi, chairman, Child Welfare Committee, Tiruchi, alluding to the Juvenile Justice Act that covers persons below 18 years.

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