Did you know 42% of India’s total population consists of children aged below 18 years and that 30.5% of this population is abandoned and neglected each year in India?
Every morning, as we open the newspaper, we come across headlines like “16 years old gang-raped” or “Minor raped and mutilated by relative”. This is not new to us. We keep hearing about such heart crushing incidents, time and again. But how many of us are aware of issues like, young adults committing suicide, on a regular basis in India? According to the World Health Organization, India holds the record for the highest number of recorded suicides in the world. What is causing these deaths? Most of us would say things like, Unemployment, failure and love-relationship issues. Some of us might blame it on depressive episodes that happen once in every person’s life. How many of us actually know that many of these deaths are related to a history of continuous child neglect? Or should I ask, how many of us even know what child neglect is?
If a girl born in a moderately wealthy, educated and well to do family told us about her child neglect sufferings, most of us would consider it a made up story. Many of us fail to understand the true nature of child neglect. For the ones who are new to this topic, child neglect is failing to meet a child’s physical, social and emotional needs. It is a form of maltreatment, intentional or unintentional, that results in a burnt childhood. In medieval Europe, children were considered devils and “miniature adults” who were believed to be possessed by the Demon. Therefore corporal punishment was a must in order to tame these miniature demonized adults. These practices continued, even though the world continued evolving. Over time, many thinkers, philosophers and socialists, warned people against the dreadful consequences of beating and maltreating children, yet this was not stopped. Regrettably, India is a country, where this malpractice is still going on, and I am not just talking about beating and punishing. Child neglect has a very extensive spectrum, starting from physical abuse, proceeding to a more intense, fierce and severe emotional and psychological distress. It generally starts with teachers and peers beating and embarrassing the child. Bullying can start from as early as toddlerhood and it first takes place at the Preparatory Schools. Since little ones are not so good at communicating and conveying due to their limited sense of speech and vocabulary, they fail to make their parents understand their plight. This induces behavioral changes, and most often, the undesirable ones. Parents, fully unaware of the child’s mental state, often confuse it with stubbornness and fussiness. As a result, the child is misunderstood and mistreated by the parents, which in turn causes more distress and behavioral issues. As the child grows up, these traumas often implant themselves inside the fragile little brain, causing serious mental illnesses such as depression and personality defects. If the child’s behavior is not read and analyzed by the parents or teachers at this very stage, it continues to bug the child’s brain for the rest of the time. These mental issues can turn so serious, that they may result in self-harm and mutilation, suicidal-tendencies and ultimately a successful suicidal attempt. Youngsters in the 15-29 years age group are accounted for the highest rate of suicide per 100,000 population in India. Alarming, isn’t it?
So much of India’s valued resource, in the form of the youth, is wasted away every year. Just a little vigilance and observation can save this lot. It is the parents’ duty to keep a check on their child’s behavior and body language. Children look up to their parents as their heroes, who are there to save them. But when these paladins fail to protect their children, they are hurt and broken beyond repair. Save children, save India.