Children keep disappearing from state-run children's homes
Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent
106 children go missing from state-run children's homes in last five years
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A recent status check carried out by the Social Justice Department in state-run children's homes has found that 106 children, 100 boys and six girls, had disappeared from these homes in the last five years. The department knows the whereabouts of 50 of them. That still leaves more than 50 children. Of this, 21 boys went missing from the home between 2010 and 2012. "This clearly shows that no effort has been made by the authorities to trace the missing children. They have been conveniently forgotten," Sajeevan Pulinkunnu, a child rights activist said. "The number of missing children would be considerably higher if a roll check was conducted in all the 14 children’s homes in the state," he added.
Even officials admit, under the assurance of anonymity, that there was no proper follow up in many cases. "Normally when a child goes missing, a complaint will be filed. But as is often the case follow-up is never done," said Sylvia George, a lawyer and child rights activist. Ms George said that it was only two years before, after the advent of Integrated Child Protection Services (ICPS), that the state began intervening in the affairs of the homes in a sensitive manner. "So the disappearance of children between 2010 and 2013 is not a big surprise," she said.
Already, it is feared that most of the children who leave the homes after 18 years are sucked into crime. "So it would not be alarmist to say that the missing children could have been adopted by some mafia gangs or even terrorist groups," said Mr Sena Sugunan, a former policeman who runs an NGO for children. However, Social Justice Department officials insist that most of the children who have not been traced are other-state children. "The addresses given when these children are brought to the homes are either incorrect or vague. It is virtually impossible to trace them," a top official said.