Project to prevent drug addiction among street children

New Delhi: In a bid to prevent drug addiction and delinquency among street children, a three-member committee set up by Juvenile Justice Board has launched a pilot project to educate scrap dealers not to employ children below the age of 18 years.

"There have been instances where children have been pushed into crime by vested interests. Some scrap dealers provide shelter to them and then push them in drug addiction.

That later leads to crime by children. They need to be told that it is illegal to employ children," says Sanjay Gupta, convener, Bal Adhikar Abhiyan NGO and a member of the committee.

Under this drive, areas where instances of child delinquency are high have been identified in south-east and north-east Delhi. There will be monthly orientation programmes for child employers in the police stations in these areas.

Later, the project will be expanded in all the areas in Delhi.

"This is a sensitisation drive where we will educate people employing children. If they do not follow it, than action will be taken against the guilty," says Bharti Sharma, convener of the committee.

The three-member committee was constituted by Juvenile Justice Board principal magistrate Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj last year and also includes advocate Anant Kumar Asthana.

"The Juvenile Justice Board has come across matters in recent months where children engaged in waste-scrap collection were being pushed into alcoholism and drug addiction for business and monetary purposes. Our aim is to check such instances," says Gupta.

Delhi has earned the dubious distinction of being the most unsafe metro in the country, topping the list in the number of crimes as well as in atrocities on women and children, according to 2009 report prepared by National Crime Records Bureau.

The national capital reported an average of 16 cases per one lakh population against children compared to the national average of 2 cases per one lakh population.

"Children are victims. There is need to take preventive measures along with curative ones. Our drive will seek to reach to maximum number of people," says Sharma.

Gupta says that the committee will request to take on board the department of women and child welfare for rehabilitation of the children.

"These children need to have an alternative for better life and efforts should be made to rehabilitate them. For this, we will request the department of women and child welfare," he says.

According to sections 23, 24, 25 and 26 of the JJ Act, a person found guilty in such activities can be sent to six months in prison or be fined Rs 20,000 or both.