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Occidental College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

India: Sustainable Development and Social Change

Abstract

Children are the most vulnerable population in India; they are at risk of human trafficking on the street, corporeal punishment at school, domestic violence at home, and the list continues. There are 12.7 million child laborers in India, the rate of child marriage is 47%, and 69% of children suffer from physical abuse (India.gov, 2011)(Tahir and Hussain, 2012, p.664)(Hello CHILDLINE, 2013, p.7). Unfortunately, much of this abuse is accepted by India’s culture: hitting children is a standard form of punishment, child marriage is a norm in rural villages, and child labor is a necessity for impoverished families. One organization attempting to address children’s vulnerability is CHILDLINE, a 24-hour, toll-free helpline for children in need. It started in Mumbai in 1996 and has now spread all over India, answering more than 27 million calls since its inception and operating in 280 cities (Hello CHILDLINE, 2014, p.3). While it receives millions of calls a year, few studies have been done to evaluate its effectiveness. This study analyzes CHILDLINE in Bikaner, Rajasthan, a rural area in a state that faces more difficulties than most of India. By interviewing CHILDLINE employees, community members, and professors, as well as surveying the general Bikaner community both in the city and villages, the study will be an exploratory research of CHILDLINE’s operations, general successes and challenges, and how it is affecting the Bikaner community. The guiding research question is, how successful is CHILDLINE at addressing child exploitation in Bikaner and how it could it become more effective? This research contributes to the discussion of the many efforts to reduce child vulnerability in India and the power of technology for social change. Overall this study found CHILDLINE’s presence in Bikaner has provided children a vital resource of rescue and has the potential for sustainable social change on child issues because of its education efforts, however the lack of public awareness, lack of cooperation from other agencies, and the conservative society with widespread poverty pose great obstacles to CHILDLINE’s effectiveness.

Disciplines

Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Social Welfare

 

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