Sunita (11 years) and Divya (11 yrs) (Given Name) are VIth grade girl children studying in a well known school in Trivandrum. Hindi being the main language used in the school, the Television channels they watch during summer vacation is also mainly hindi. The parents of both children are working and hence away from home during the day. Both families are neighbours and hence children are close friends.
Having been watching regular reality shows during the holidays together, the children decided to travel to Mumbai to take part in the reality show auditions. They got ready their baggage without the knowledge of parents and left for the railway station on 23rd May, 2013.
The Women and Child help Booth of Don Bosco at the Trivandrum Railway station is always manned by our staff. They observe the station premises for children travelling alone and for street children. Having spotted the kids, in the railway station our staff quizzed them and found that they were planning to travel to Mumbai without knowledge parents. Our staff brought them to Don Bosco Nivas and after long counseling they revealed their situation.
Both children are from middle class families and Sunitha is the only child 0f her parents. Both the children were unhappy with their parents. Divya’s diary contained pages on how she hated her parents. Sunitha had a multimedia phone which was her own.
The parents were surprised and dismayed when we informed them about their children. This is the umpteenth time the surprised look of parents are seen when they come to know what their children are upto! Each information we give to the parents about their children are revelation to them. Having educated the children on the dangers that could have befallen them on travelling alone and having brought them down from ‘reality show’ world to the reality of life we restored the children to their parents.
In the middle class family of present Kerala society both parents are working. The children move from tuition to school to tuition. There is no time for sharing and caring. Hence there is a widening gap between parents and children and the mental health of children is perilously endangered. Strong intervention and education of parents and children are the need of the hour. The children need to feel the love and care of parents and parents need to know what their children are engaged in. Media education to bring children back from the virtual world the world of reality is essential.
The Women and Child Help Centre at the railway station is proving to be a very important intervention to rescue and protect children from being lost. The railway police (GRP) and RPF are also very helpful in locating children who are unaccompanied.