New Delhi (Sputnik) — The safety of children in the virtual world has become one of the biggest challenges faced by the Indian authorities.
According to a report published in English Daily Times of India, out of 187 calls received in 2017-18 on the Helpline, 39 calls were related to the online game 'Blue Whale' which pushed participants to end their lives.
The children, entrapped by a challenge posed by a dominating administrator, dialed 1098 and reported the trauma which they were into, according to the helpline authorities.
"All 39 similar calls from children to 1098 in 2017-18 revealed a link with the Blue Whale Challenge. Some called to deal with the fear generated by the game, others were children in distress requiring physical intervention and then there were those seeking information about the game," the Times of India reports.
The other cases include videos with child sexual abuse material, corporal punishment depictions, pornography and stalking.
In most of the cases of online abuse 1098, there is a common thread —either online abuse ended in contact abuse or vice versa," Harleen Walia from Child Helpline was quoted by the Times of India as saying.
Childcare activists opine that India will have to gear up to fight the menace urgently. Shiney Elias, student counselor and program head of Jovita India, a child protection organization, told Sputnik that in most of the cases, parents themselves are not aware of the gravity of the problem and take children's ordeal as routine anxiety.
"We are lacking in trained professionals to deal with such cases, we also do not have any ways to sensitize the parents and guardians about the phenomenon which is fast spreading among our kids. We need to hurry up before the problem becomes insurmountable. In maximum cases when children approach their parents about the problem, they either are unaware of the gravity of the issue or brush it away as routine anxiety among the kids," Shiney Elias told Sputnik.
The highest percentage of cases reported to 1098 is of children in the age group of 11-18 years, the report added.