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Tackling Addiction and Forming Alliance of Child Care Institutes
By Tezasvi Chowdary
Mumbai, Oct. 30. Sixty-five professionals from twenty-five Child Care Institutions (CCI) attended a seminar on 'How to Handle Addicted Children' and 'Juvenile Justice Alliance Meet' organised by Don Bosco Balprafulta at Don Bosco Provincial House on October 24.
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Father Thomas Koshy, Executive Secretary of Don Bosco YaR (Young at Risk) forum and Delhi Juvenile Justice Alliance (JJA), presided over the seminar, which was moderated by Father Gregory Almeida, Director - Shelter Don Bosco, Mumbai.

The seminar began with a video prayer song invoking the presence of the Almighty. Representatives of different Child Care Institutes and NGOs were specially invited to understand and get deeper insights into addiction, its causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, the risks and protective factors involved.

In the first half of the day, Doctor Sunita Shanbaug, professor, Department of Community Medicine G S Medical College and KEM Hospital, took a session on handling children addicted to drugs, alcohol, substance, and marijuana. Doctor Shanbaug gave a medical perspective and explained about the symptoms of addiction, its effects on health and behavioral changes.

Father Devdas, co-founder of Shelter Don Bosco (Wadala) and currently Director of Maria Ashiana, Lonavla, then spoke about the age groups of addicts his institution handles, the services rendered to them, problems in handling them, their technics and methodology.

In the post lunch session, Father Koshy explained to the participants about history of Juvenile Justice Alliance (JJA). He pointed out that the earlier version of JJA which is Juvenile Justice National Desk (JJND) was floated since there was a call from the floor to have such a common platform at a national level consultation on child rights.

The participants who were then divided into four groups, jotted down the problems and issues faced by CCIs. Two members from each group presented the problems identified: lack of proper protocols with respect to children's documentation, shoddy online procedures, ineffective communication, and the sense of not being heard by the committees.

Doctor K P Asha Mukundan, assistant professor, Centre for Criminology and Justice, Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), summarised that most of the problems identified by the participants can only be solved by working together with each other and the officials, in the best interests of the child.

S Vijay Shankar, national coordinator of India Juvenile Justice Alliance (JJA) and DB YaR Forum, said that the problems identified by the participants were not unique to Maharashtra and pointed that they were somewhat identical to the problems faced by CCIs in other states. He urged them to work under one common platform so that their issues can be voiced louder in the same tone, thus making it easier to lobby with the Maharashtra government. He assured the participants that JJA will help coordinate similar forums in other states so that advocacy can be done at the national level.

At the end of the meeting, the participants agreed to work under a common umbrella named 'Mumbai Fraternity Forum' (MFF), to meet again in a few months, and to strengthen the forum by bringing in CCIs who were absent, to the next meeting.  


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