CHILDREN categorized as missing or runaway, for any

CHILDREN
RUN AWAY from all backgrounds and communities, in response to situations
where they are in danger, unhappy or simply do not know where to get help. There are 47.22 million homeless and runaway
adolescents roaming on the streets of our country (Voluntary Health Association
of India — VHAI) of which one lakh are in Delhi. Very little is known about
them, their needs or their experiences.

            Many family characteristics and
family environments influence runaway such as the number of people in a family,
inconsistent parenting, family problems, child neglect and children’s
attachment to parents.

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           While certain child abuse and
neglect issues are common in almost all countries at the global level such as
physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, abandonment
and, increasingly, problems of street children, there are also many issues
which are prevalent only in certain regions of the world.

At the individual and family level, several factors are
associated with a higher risk of running, including gender, age, a pattern of running
that began prior to foster care placement, high family conflict, and the level
of family involvement while in care (Biehal & Wade, 2000; Miller, et al.,
1990).

            The socio-economic spectrum of
missing and runaway children in India has great range and diversity. Children
who leave home or disappear may therefore be categorized as missing or runaway,
for any one or a combination of reasons which include:

·        
 To earn a
living

·        
To escape abuse

·        
To elope

·        
 To escape
perceived threat or stress such as may be caused due to exams or domestic
violence.

·        
 Some are
sold to labor contractors or for sex traffickers

·     Some are kidnapped for ransom.

The first
comprehensive information in India on missing children was the collection of
information by National Crime Record Bureau which started in 1953. A report on
child prostitution (B. Bhamati for UNICEF in 1996), wherein the hidden linkage
of ‘missing children’ to child trafficking was detailed, was one of the first
efforts on the issue. Amore liberal approach to expand the issue was taken by
the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its research on trafficking of
women and children in India in 2004. The 2007 recommendations by NHRC were
probably more informed and sophisticated in approach on missing children when
Nithari massacre came into light and concentrated more on the issue of policy
gaps that existed and the issue of governance rather than correlating the
Nithari case with numbers, regions, districts, states, etc.

 

BBA (Bachpan
Bachao Andolan) initiated a campaign on missing children in Delhi, it came
across dozens of cases which (at that time) had not been registered or
investigated by the police or any other statutory authority. The parents were
tired of running from pillar to post and many had given up all hopes of ever
being able to recover their children. The parents were also giving clues to the
police, however their complaints were only recorded in the station records but
no FIRs were lodged and investigated. Concerned with the situation, BBA wrote
to the Chief Justice of India asking him to intervene into the matter
understanding that the issue of missing children was much wider in scope and
much worse probably in its dimension in other remote corners of the country.

 

CAUSES/POSSIBLE
FACTORS:-

According to
unofficial estimates, the number of missing children can be as much as ten
times than what is stated in this research because the majority of trafficking
victims are not included in missing cases or they do not have any official
record. Whatever be the figure of missing children, the government does not
agree with these estimates. However, the figure of missing children is
increasing every day, pushed by numerous potent factors which are as follows-

·        
 Trafficking- Trafficking is the process which
results in exploitation. The children are being trafficked for the following
purposes-

Ø 
 Forced
labour

Ø 
Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Ø 
Illegal adoption racket ú Armed conflict

Ø 
 Organ
trade and medical testing.

Ø 
Other crimes (including begging, pick pocketing,
addiction, etc.)

 Apart from the purposes for which a child may
be trafficked, there are other factors which force a child to become victim of
trafficking including:

Ø 
Runaway children

Ø 
 Abandonment (on the basis of gender,
health/disability, children born out of wedlock)

Ø 
 Animosity

Ø 
Theft of kids (for personal reasons)

Ø 
Natural calamities

Ø 
 Sacrifice/religious beliefs

Ø 
 Missing
from government/NGO institution

·        
Social
Perception- The plight of parents of missing children, who may not come
forward to report a missing child, is because of various reasons. One of the
main issues hampering the causes of missing children is the societal 7
perception that trafficking cases are not actually missing children cases. In
many cases where children are trafficked (especially of poor and illiterate
parents or parents with limited means) or where girls have been abducted
through deception and trafficked across the state, this happens under the garb
of a better life. However, these girls may end up being exploited in the guise
of CSE or forced labour or domestic servitude. Such perceptions lead parents to
not report a missing child.

MENTAL PROBLEMS THAT ARE FACED BY
RUNAWAY CHILDREN:-

·        
Abuse

Ø 
Physical abuse

Ø 
Sexual abuse

·        
Substance abuse

·        
High hopelessness

·        
Depression

·        
Suicidal behavior

·        
Behavioral problems

THE
EXISTING INSTITUTIONAL FRAME WORK:-

Various
statutory units, known as institutions, are deliberately constructed and
reconstructed to seek specific goals. This report takes into account such
government as well as non-government institutions. Their roles have been
discussed in this research study in connection with the phenomena of missing
children. These institutions include Zonal Integrated Police Network
(ZIPNet)/Police, National Institute on Public Cooperation and Child Development
(NIPCCD), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)/State Human Rights Commission
(SHRC), National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)/State
Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), National Commission for
Women (NCW)/State Commission for Women (SCW), National Crime Records Bureau
(NCRB), Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), JAPU (Juvenile Aid Police Unit),
District Missing Persons Unit (DMPU), cell for missing children in Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) etc.

These are
some of the government institutions working on the issue of missing and runaway
children. Many non government organizations or civil society organizations are
also active in this field including organizations like BBA, National Centre for
Missing Children (NCMC), Childline India Foundation, Don Bosco, Butterflies
foundation, Prayas etc.

CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) is the
nodal agency of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development acting as the
parent organisation for setting up, managing and monitoring the CHILDLINE 1098 service all over the
country. CIF is the sole agency/body responsible for establishing the CHILDLINE
service in the cities/districts of the country, monitoring of service delivery
and finance, training, research and documentation, creating awareness, advocacy
as well as resource generation for the service.

‘BUTTERFLIES Foundation NGO’ is a
registered voluntary organization working with vulnerable groups of children
since 1989. With a right-based, non-institutional approach the organization
endeavors to educate and impart life skills to vulnerable children so that they
become self-reliant. ‘Butterflies’ also has a research advocacy and training
wing that works to support mobilization of civil societies and influence
policies at all levels. It is an active participant in national and
international network for advocating and promoting policies, programmes and
actions to protect rights of the children.

The DON BOSCO Institutions of India,
following the teachings of Christ and the charism of Don Bosco strive to care
and protect children whom we encounter in all our settings, in a spirit of
reason, religion and loving kindness, with a rights-based approach30, to help
them become healthy, integrated and responsible persons in life. The Don Bosco
Institutions of India recognize, uphold and promote children’s interests and
rights, share responsibility for children’s development and protection, have
zero tolerance of child abuse and use a comprehensive management approach for
child care and protection.

In 2009 the Ministry of
Women and Child under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme recognised the
need of a portal and a network to be created for tracing missing children by
including the same in the ICPS policy document. It took the Ministry of Women
and Child almost four years to announce the creation of the missing children
portal.

 In 2010 the Delhi High Court ordered detailed
guidelines for Delhi Police. Among the various guidelines it was mentioned that
the Police have to register FIR in all cases of missing children.

In 2011 the Ministry of Home
Affairs published a detailed Advisory to all states for taking steps for
tabulating each and every missing cases and also the various ways and methods
the Police can recover these cases. The Advisory recognised the fact that
trafficking in human beings was a organised crime and the response to the same
should also be organised. The Ministry of Home Affairs advisory was again a
well researched document and resulted from a series of zonal workshops held
across the country.

In 2012 Bachpan Bachao
Andolan published a report on missing persons which clearly reflected that the
actual number of missing persons is much more than what is being reported in
the NCRB Data.

LEGAL AND LEGISLATIVE SAFEGUARDS:-

In tune with the global
endeavor to ensure wellbeing of its children, the Indian government also had
initiated endeavor through different legislative acts. The following outlines
such major endeavors in sequential years.

·        
The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation)
Act, 1986

·        
Amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and
Regulation),1986

·        
The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and
Infant Foods Act 1992 amended in 2003

·        
The Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of
Children) Act, 2000

·        
Amendment to the Juvenile Justice (Care &
Protection of Children) Act, 2006

·        
JJ Bill 2015

·        
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006

·        
The National Commission for Protection of Child
Rights (NCPCR)

·        
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory
Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE)

·        
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences
Act, 2012.

 

LITERATURE
REVIEW

There are number of articles related
to homeless youth, yet very little research has been done directly related to
runaways, much of the literature combines the study of homeless youth with
runaways. The literature review on this topic basically consist of articles
related to children who runaway due to abuse, the challenges that are faced by
them for example: – family change, as well as the needs of runaway youth.

Nineteen percent of the world’s
children live in India. According to the 2001 Census, some 440 million people
in the country today are aged below eighteen years and constitute 42 percent of
India’s total population i.e., four out of every ten persons. This is an
enormous number of children that the country has to take care of. While
articulating its vision of progress, development and equity, India has
expressed its recognition of the fact that when its children are educated,
healthy, happy and have access to opportunities, they are the country’s
greatest human resource.

According to the report published in
2005 on ‘Trafficking in Women and Children in India’, 44,476 children were
reported missing in India, out of which 11,008 children continued to remain
untraced. India, being a major source and destination country for trafficked
children from within India and adjoining countries has, by conservative
estimates, three to five lakh girl children in commercial sex and organized
prostitution.

            Bahni
(1989); Marglin (1985); Mowli (1992) observed that religious prostitution is
practised in various parts of India and Nepal. Devadasi cults are found in
Southern India and also practised in other parts of the country such as Uttar
Pradesh and Orissa. They derive customary sanction from oppressive upper- caste
temple traditions. Pre-pubertal girls, aged between five and nine years, from
poor, low-caste homes, are dedicated by an initiation rite to the deity in the
local temple during full moon. After a girl is married to the deity by the tali
rite, she is branded with a hot iron on both shoulders and her breast. She is
then employed by the temple priest. Sometimes, even before menarche, she is
auctioned for her virginity; the deflowering ceremony known as udilumbuvadu
becomes the privilege of the highest bidder. Religious prostitution is known by
different names such as venkatasani, jogini, nailis, muralis and theradiyan.

            The Human Development Report of the
UNDP (1993) shows that our country has the greatest number of street children.
It is reported that New Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta have around 2 lakhs street
children each, and Bangalore has about 45,000 street children.

              Asha Rane and Neela Shroff (1994)
based on the UNICEF sponsored research studies in seven major cities and their
practical experiences of working with street children, in their paper presented
a profile of street children in terms of age, sex, family background, living
and working conditions, and health conditions. The major problems encountered
by street children in India include harassment by the municipal authorities and
the police, exploitation by employers, and a general lack of recreational
facilities.

              NIPCCD (2000): Street child has
become his or her habitual abode and who is without adequate protection taken
into account three dimensions such as age, physical setting and social
environment. Children on the street still have more or less regular family
connections, children of the street have no or hardly any family ties left.
They may be permanently on the streets. Usually the latter group is smaller but
more complex than the former.

             Child Rights Forum (2007) said
that Forum for Child Rights and CHILDLINE is a common platform of NGOs working
for the cause of street children in Vijayawada for collective action towards
children at risk. Its vision is to promote the Rights of the Child as enshrined
in the UN Charter: Survival, Protection, Development and Participation. Its
mission is to make Vijayawada a child-friendly city. The Chairman of Care and
Share is the Secretary of the Forum (The Governing Body includes the Mayor,
Commissioner of Police, Commissioner of Municipal Corporation and Assistant
Labour Commissioner). Its office is at the Tana Bhavan, which also functions as
a rescue shelter. The Forum runs CHILDLINE 1098 – a 24 hour Helpline for
children in distress. The staff is located at 3 places in the city Tana Bhavan,
Police Control Room and the Railway Station. CHILDLINE has been functioning
since 20th November 2000, So far Childline has reached out to 7,479 children
through a programme supported by Government of India and NGOs.

             UNESCO (2008) “Being a street
child means going hungry, sleeping in insalubrious places, facing up to
violence and sometimes becoming an expiatory victim; it means growing up
without companionship, love and protection; it means not having access to
education or medical services; it means losing all dignity and becoming an
adult before even having been a child”

              Prakash, Satya and Singh, Lata
(2011) identified that several of run- away children come to cities mostly
through railways. Therefore, the need for special safeguards and care for
children around Railway Stations is important. This is the point where they can
be contacted, treated with respect and their rights to protection and
development guaranteed lest they join the huge numbers of invisible and
vulnerable children.

                                                           
                         

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE
STUDY

Runaway and missing children are
present all around us and yet little is known about their numbers or the
challenges that are faced by them.  The
interventions meant for runaway and missing children have not shown the desired
results. This is the gap the report tries to address.

RESEARCH
GAP

After having done a comprehensive
literature review on the runaway and missing children, it is observed that no
significance research has been under taken in the context. This might have
affected the children on the wider range.

The present study attempts to bridge
this gap that to the large extent and would provide the reader with the
comprehensive picture of the consequences that children face due to change in
the family and the conflicts that play a significant role in children’s
decisions to run away.

 

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

In an attempt to collect the
necessary information on the causes, nature and extent of runaway children in
India, Quantitative data collection approaches will be used. Extensive field
research will be carried out to understand the current situation of runaway
children in Delhi.

This study examines the correlation
between family level characteristics measure and lifetime runaway behavior for
individuals.

RESEARCH PROBLEM:-

In India, the basic problem that
every child is facing is linked with his family due to which they are tending
to run away from their house. There are few children that are traced and sent
back to their family but there are much more who neither traced nor reached
back to their house.

              The problem is that there are
various researches done to the runaway and missing children but there are no
such that focused on what are the consequences that prorogued a child to runaway.
Problems such as: physical abuse, sexual abuse by the family member itself,
abuse to child after the second marriage of the parent.

 

RESEARCH
OBJECTIVE:-

This research study is being carried
out not only to understand the nature and extent of the problem of runaway and
missing children but also to come out with a situational analysis of the policy
framework. This study also tries explore gaps and suggests recommendations to
move forward collectively on this issue. This research study also focuses on drawing
attention towards the children that are facing problems due to the change in
family and further conflicts which are:-

·        
The
main objective is to understand the nature and extend of the problem that is
faced by the runaway and missing children.

·        
Another
objective is to analyze the family problems that prorogued the child to
runaway.

·        
To study the profile of the abused children and
the social and economic circumstances leading to their abuse.

 

HYPOTHESIS:-

The aim of the study is to develop a
comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon of children decision to run away.

RESEARCH SAMPLE
DESIGN:-

It is planned to collect the quantitative information from 25 boys and
25 girls of age group 8-18 years from different governmental child care institutions
and NGO.

TOOLS FOR DATA
COLLECTION:-

Database of childcare institutions and NGO will be used as data
collection tools for the research study.

STATISTICAL
ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES:-

As there are two categorical
variables from a single population. The test that will be applied to analyse
the data is:-

·        
Chi-Square test for Independence.

·        
Parental marital status, education level, and
use of public assistance were all significantly connected to runaway rates in
the chi square models but when included in the large regression model the
effects were no longer significant.

·        
 A number
of indicators of parent-child relationship quality also were significant in the
chi square models but not in the regression. These variables include: if the
parent and child make decisions together about the child’s life, if the parent
feels they do not understand their child, and if the parent feels that their
child interferes in their activities.

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