Whenever calamity strikes — be it natural or man-made — children are the first ones to suffer. But then again, it doesn’t take a calamity to make children traumatic, a broken family has just the same effect. Advocating children’s right to family is something Butterflies has been doing for ages now. For years, they have been campaigning against the need to eliminate unnecessary institutionalisation of vulnerable children. The family has been recognised as the natural setting for all children by the proposed National Policy for Children 2012, in spite of such legislations and policies we regularly come across institutions set up under the garb of hostels and educational institutions who offer their services to children from poor or low income groups, depriving them of a family life. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’ This was the focus of the Gerry Pinto Memorial Lecture Series — First Call for Children. This year, the lectures (held at the India International Centre on Wednesday) dealt with the issue of a child’s right to family. The lecture was chaired by Vasanti Rama of FORCES; Rajni Palriwal, Department of Sociology, Delhi University; Bino Thomas, Head of department, Social work, Christ University, Benguluru and Rita Panicker, Director of Butterflies. Palriwal delivered the key note address. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix Panicker opened the lecture and spoke of a child’s right to a family and how the two key institutions — family and school — have undergone a change in the last three decades with poverty pushing children to work, forcing many to even migrate. The relationship between poverty and forced institutionalisation though is not very linear, researches conducted by Butterflies have shown children across socio-cultural backgrounds have considered families to be a safety net and prefer living with families. Thomas validated what Panicker said. He said that parenting is no longer just common sense and it was now becoming more of a science and art. Interactions with children in his pre-clinical practice he was told by the children that they want to be parent friendly and parents told him that they would not want to pass on the wounds of their childhood to their children. Children are found to be carriers of family dysfunction and most often behaviour changes are needed with parenting and not with the children. Lack of time, inability to prioritise, generation and communication gap along with a lot of other practical difficulties are some of the reasons he listed as some issues which eventually leads into problem families. Palriwala spoke of extremely dysfunctional families, families with abject poverty, families with illness, neglect, abusive. The state also does not give necessary support to children in this age group and does not figure in any rights, education or health discourse.