Distressing State of Children in India

Volume 1, Issue 2

Written by Debapriya Dattaroy

“Children are our most valuable resources and a country’s best hope for the future.”- John Kennedy

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Children are the hope and future of a nation. This is one of the most famous statements proclaimed by the promoters and preachers of liberty and democracy; but how far have these people been successful in protecting this “future”. Even though the saying may be at the tip of their lips, it somewhere loses it’s voice before reaching their fingers. Upbringing of children is of utmost importance as it determines their behaviour as future citizens of a country. Hence, it is important to raise them in a right and appropriate manner. One does wonder on the perfect way of raising children. The traditional mind set of people will lay emphasis on following certain customs and traditions as the right way of bringing up children. While this is an important factor in their upbringing, there exists a huge misconception among parents that these customs and traditions will  help them in raising the “perfect child”.  Neither any alteration nor any compromising is welcomed when it comes to raising the future of our nation. Children are entitled to certain unalienable rights granted by the government which many are unaware of. Being aware of these rights, having the liberty to explore one’s talents and capabilities, receiving good education, having a healthy relationship with family are certain aspects that must be inculcated in children in the course of their upbringing.

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When we speak of crimes against children, people undoubtedly tend to think of child labour, poverty and illiteracy. Children who become victims of child labour are exploited by employers and middlemen by indulging in dangerous sectors of various industries for minimal pay, and become prone to numerous health hazards and malnutrition. The employers take full advantage of their innocence and get away with human exploitation. Even though the government has passed out various legislations like prohibition of employment of children under the age of 14 and right to free and compulsory education till the age of 14, none of these laws bring satisfactory results due to their improper implementation. Although massive debates, discussions and protests take place on these burning issues, yet there is only a bare minimum that are willing to practice what they preach. Those who continue to show their support against these heinous crimes, unfortunately ignore the silent crimes which most of the children in India are prone to: emotional black mailing, child discrimination and verbal or physical abuse.

Given below are the main types of crimes on the part of Indian children that are currently affecting one fourth of the nation’s population:

1] Corporal punishment – This refers to the use of physical violence as a medium of disciplining the child. Initially, it was practiced as a means to reinforce discipline and order among children, but in present times, it is a punishable offence in many parts of the country. Parents who practice it in an extreme manner are under the wrong notion that it will make the child more obedient and respectful towards them. Such ignorance is the root cause of imbalance in this precious, yet fragile relationship. It often generates more fear than respect in the innocent minds of children. In some cases, growing children end up resenting their parents. Parents, who repeatedly follow this technique of upbringing, usually remove their personal frustration on their children in this manner. The various reasons for this may be because,

The parent may be an alcoholic, chain smoker or a drug addict.
He/she may be facing personal or professional strain. It is generally practiced by illiterate or ignorant people.
The particular parent may have undergone the same treatment in his/ her childhood.
Divorce or dissertation may also be a factor.

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These regular frustrations in the form of abuse have long term impacts on children. Some of them are as follows:

o   Decline of parent child relationship.

o   Reduces the self-esteem and confidence in the child.

o   Deterioration of complete physical or mental growth of the child.

o   Probability of indulgence in juvenile activities by the children in the course of time.

o   There is a likelihood of repeating this method in the upcoming generations.

2] Child Discrimination – It refers to the discrimination of one child with another on the basis of race, colour, ability and gender. It is a common Indian blunder which many parents, teachers and others make and hurt the self-esteem and confidence of children. In India, there is wide scale gender discrimination where opportunities of various natures are restricted only to males. There are many parts of the country where boys have a right to play and educate themselves while girls are merely taught how to perfect their domestic chores from a tender age. The common stereotype existing in the society is that getting these opportunities will serve no purpose to women. Although the government has passed a law of granting free and compulsory education to children till the age of 14, irrespective of class, caste and gender, ignorant people are yet to realize the importance of education.

3) Lack of Choice and Independence – Another common problem that most parents tend to make is planning out their children’s’ future on the basis of education and career even before the children have a chance to choose it for themselves. Parents must stop using their children to fulfill their unfulfilled dreams and instead support them in exploring their own talents and capabilities.

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Only if everybody is aware of their rights can they discover their true potential. If the right kind of awareness increases in the right manner, the level of child labour and other crimes can decline, thereby bringing prosperity to the nation. If people aspire for a successful and bright future, then they must bring the generation out of the shadows of abuse and discrimination. Every child is special and integral in bringing laurels to a nation; irrespective of his or her origin. As John Kennedy rightly said, “children are our most valuable resources and a country’s best hope for the future.” Let us value these precious gems and hope for their brightest future.

 

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