Why is there a marked increase in the number of kids running away from home this year?

The lockdown seems to have caused major cabin fever among the kids running away from home. Some are being driven out by poverty, in search of jobs
Pic: Edexlive/Pixabay
Pic: Edexlive/Pixabay

The COVID-induced lockdown and online classes have had a startling impact on children, as several cases of young ones running away from home have been reported.

Since January this year, 1,654 children have been found at different bus and railway stations in Bengaluru. Some of them left home, apparently feeling suffocated, while others sought exposure. Besides, many children, driven by poverty, came to the state capital in search of jobs. Over the last week, in two separate incidents in Bengaluru, six children went missing from their residences and were subsequently traced by the police.

According to the data provided by Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota (BOSCO), an NGO working with street children, of the 1,654 runaways traced in the city, 1,366 were boys and the rest girls. Also, 415 of these children were from Bengaluru Urban. The average number of children found between January and April was 170 to 190 per month, while in May and June, when the lockdown was at its peak, it dipped to 14 and 76, respectively. As the curbs were relaxed, the cases shot up again — July (277), August (263) and September (326).

Till October 10, there were 43 runaway children. Bosco Yuvodaya Director Father Johnson said that one of the major reasons for these children to find their way to Bengaluru is jobs and many of them came from Odisha, Bihar and other North Indian states. He said that sitting at home for a long time during the lockdown also affected children, who wanted exposure to a big city.

"We found many children arriving in Bengaluru and some leaving from here to other cities," he said, adding that they often travelled in small groups. Activist and Executive Director and Trustee of Child Rights Trust, Vasudeva Sharma, said the causes behind this trend largely stem from home. Parents, especially those working, are unable to understand what to make of the lockdown, other than getting their children to study. "But we cannot also blame the parents completely," he stressed.

Education Minister BC Nagesh said, "We will convene a meeting on Monday and speak to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and other officials. We will try to find a solution." 

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