Bright Ideas: Childline 10981 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Childline is a toll-free helpline number (1098) for children in India, with a special focus on helping those who are homeless or on the streets. This project, which was started by Jeroo Billimoria, was the culmination of a massive movement to create a pan-India helpline for children in distress.
Billimoria, then a Professor at TATA Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) would interact on a regular basis with children sleeping at railway stations or those who lived on the streets and helped them during times of crisis. However, she realized that she wouldn’t be able to help all the children who reached out to her by herself.
It wasn’t easy to convince the Government that this helpline was an immediate need. It took her three years and two protests to finally establish the 1098 toll-free number so that money isn’t a factor that stopped children from reaching out for help.
Childline India Foundation thus began in 1999 and was initially funded by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with the aim of establishing the helpline in all Indian cities with a population of more than 10 million, by 2002. By 2006-07, it was a nodal agency (an agency that is part of the government but consulted for a specific project/scheme) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It even made a mention in the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015.
Childline is now in service 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help children in need.