Disturbed minds

child using internet on personal mobile

Ekta Srivastava talks to doctors and teachers to dissect the crime spiral among our young kids and ways to reset behaviour patterns.

In this fast-paced, technology-driven life, are we becoming emotionless androids ourselves? As parents chasing the best amenities for our kids, we often forget that without the touch and feel of conversations and games, no amount of gizmos or skill classes can be the surrogate for holistic development. In fact, the drabness of performance pressures and the choreographed universe of the internet do them more harm than good, turning them into robotic addicts. 

Blame Game’

From not holding their little fingers to handing them smartphones, we have shaken their little world with foolish cartoon series and online games. And when this over-exposure of unwanted, uncensored things take control of their life, leading their small minds to do crazy things, we, as a most responsible parent start playing ‘blame game’.

 It starts at an early age. Anytime they hit their heads over some door, furniture or fall on the ground, we blame those non-living things. Since childhood, they were taught, nothing is their fault, and it’s always someone else who hurts them. If they are uttering something bad, might be they had heard it from their friends, if they are misbehaving, they could have learnt it from their peers. Then, where or what are the roles of parents? We should be teaching them that it is okay to fall down and get up, it is alright to get hurt once in a while and the world is not hostile.

What has happened?

When in a rarest of rare case, a juvenile raped a woman of age 23 and killed her brutally, an alleged student of class XI killed his junior of class III, students of class XI ruthlessly slapped student of class IX or when a student of class X mercilessly killed his mother and 10-year-old sister, the entire nation wondered what provoked extreme behaviour?

Uttar Pradesh-based renowned psychiatrist Dr P.K. Manglik said, “There is no class, race, religion or nationality involved in violence. But there is either a male or female child involved, whose mind is not developed enough to control sudden fits of emotions. Nowadays, some of the reasons that make children resort to means of violence are the failure of parents in sharing good values with their child.

Easy internet access

The penetration of internet in their lives through easy availability of smartphones, violent TV programs and movies severely affect the innocent and ignorant minds of children who are curious to know more and more about anything new, whether it is good or bad. It is also seen that children belonging to nuclear families are neglected by their parents who fail to spend enough time with them. These children fall victim to committing violence. Parents should try to teach their children to spend their spare time constructively rather than investing it on mentally and physically unhealthy activities.”

 When asked if there any kind of gender differences in psychiatric disorders, Dr Manglik responded, “Gender bias is one of the main reasons why males and females have different responses. And it is because of gender that psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety and related complaints come into the picture. It is commonly believed that depression is the most common health problem that is persistent among young girls. But, it is seen that more boys fell prey to it compared to girls.  In males, obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD may happen because of thoughts, whereas in females it is because of obsessions towards cleanliness”.

Rising criminality among kids

Asking about the rising criminality among the young, Dr Maglik said, “There are some distinctive features of kids’ personality. For instance, these kids are less expressive in terms of emotions. They hardly share what’s in their mind unless you are very close to them or until they trust you. They want to have worthwhile things like an expensive bike, mobile phone etc. and are very much depressed after not getting them. In such cases, there is also a higher addiction to drugs as well. There was a recent case, where a nine-year-old boy tried to attack his parents with a knife. Because he believed they wanted him to study every time.”

Poonam Kumar Mendiratta, The Manthan School

Speaking on the same, Poonam Kumar Mendiratta, The Manthan School, Mywoods, Greater Noida, said, “Surprisingly the presumptive notion worldwide is that the upsurging delinquency in kids is deeply embedded. However, based on my experience. I would annihilate the aforesaid notion by unmasking the actual inhibitors (we Elders, Parents, Teachers) who have grossly failed in providing purpose and direction to these kids in letter and spirit. ” She further proposed remedial solace by saying “there is no other way to lead but by example”. Which in simple words means, we elders need to mend our ways. That could serve as a role model to be emulated by our kids in challenging situations.

Most Distressing Aspect

According to Poonam Kumar Mendiratta,”. The most distressing aspect is the loss of emotional exchange and empathy between parents and kids. The major cause according to me is the unfiltered flooding of information. Due to the growing challenges in professional and personal lives. Where parents themselves suffer from a major breakdown, children find themselves helpless.”

 Further Mendiratta added, “A corrective step to overcome this situation could be well calculated. Meticulously analysed and inculcating the importance of gender sensitization, appropriately timed access to information. Supplemented by enhanced interactions between elders, parents, teachers and children to explain the highs and lows of usage.”

 Ajay Singh Bisht, Associate Professor. Himalayan Institute of Pharmacy and Research, Dehradun says, “We are lacking in delivering basic moral values to a child. The generation is very fast and sensitive but in my perception, they are lacking moral values.’’

Speaking on the same, Dr Manglik said, “Many parents try their utmost best to impart quality education but don’t concentrate on fulfilling the moral needs of a child. So that he/she can be a good citizen of the state as well as a fine human being. This child is raised in hope that in future he will stand on his own feet and be equally giving to his family. The parents and teachers work on his physical and mental development but probably there is a lack of wisdom. Therefore, he or she receives a good education but lack morality”.

The Emerging gap between parents and kids

Most double income parents rely on a nanny or a caregiver system. Which may give a service-oriented comfort but no emotional support. So an entire generation grows up feeling a loner and insecure. Affected children react to the world with unusual quietness or agitated behaviour. These children spend long hours by themselves with minimal or no social interaction. This makes them easily susceptible to frustration and repressed anxieties that manifest in crimes.

 As Mendiratta explained, “When everybody in the kid’s eco-system is engrossed in their own selves. They feel isolated deep within and carry this burden throughout, resulting in anxiety and depression. In a society where the kids are left in charge of help. Parents are unaware of what their children are doing. Inappropriate access to the internet adds to the misery. If technology is used in the correct way then it’s a boon, otherwise, it is a bane.

 “Anxiety and depression in kids have been on the rise in the 21st century, and we mentors have not been able to advise, educate and help our children. We are so preoccupied in our own affairs that we hardly spare time for our kids. We prefer to pass our responsibility to others that are our neighbours, servants and friends” said the principal of Manthan School. 

Substance Abuse by kids

There has been an alarming rise in the consumption of substances amongst the young and the number continues to rise. Youth between 16 and 22 years indulge in banned substances with a steady growth rate of about 10%. National Crime Records Bureau’s(NCRB) city-wise data reported that in 2014, there were 19,874 cases under Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act reported in the country; of this, Mumbai reported 14,274 cases – putting Mumbai right on top.

A survey conducted by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry of India. Amongst boys aged between 15 and 19 showed that a shocking 28.6% reported tobacco use and 15% were addicted to alcohol. Girls aged 15-19 showed 5.5% used tobacco while 4% were addicted to alcohol. Nobel Peace Prize winner and child welfare crusader, Kailash Satyarthi brought the issue of substance issue before the Supreme Court and sought an order from the government to draft a national action plan to eliminate drug abuse by children.

 Are you afraid

“Yes…,! I am very much afraid. I get involved in my kid’s activities and try to learn his behaviour. In such a manner that I can do some needful changes through discussion,” said Bisht.
 On the same, Dr Amrita Mudgal, MO, Medanta –The Medicity, requested parents not to compromise with their children’s future. “Make sure that your child is physically active. He should crash on the bed at night. This will channelize his unsued energy/time and efforts to a brighter future. Most important, be the best friend of your kid so that he confides in you when he is in emotional turmoil/ conflicts” suggested Dr Mudgal. 

Do these Kids deserve a 2nd chance? 

 According to Mendiratta, first-time offenders should be given a second chance at rehabilitation.
As psychiatrist Dr Manglik said, “The victims of these disorders deserve a second chance. They need psychological/medical treatment rather than punishment. Punishment will only lead to the deterioration of their condition. Generally, kids between 10 and 12 are less likely to commit crime as compared to teens. This is because, in the latter age group, kids’ curiosity is at its maximum which they try to quench leading to good or bad actions.

Please remember many children have problems during their childhood but most of these do not go on to commit a crime.

The majority of those who do commit crime do not commit serious or multiple offences. Even those who do commit serious or multiple offences tend to eventually grow out of it. Parent’s support is probably the most important thing in helping children stay out of trouble or to help them out.
Instead of it a hand-holding approach is required. Infusing confidence in our children is our responsibility and, therefore, it is never too late to restart.

Children are much less likely to get into trouble if their parents: 

1. Have a good relationship with them and can talk openly with them.
2. Can agree on sensible clear rules and encourage them to stick to them as much as possible.
3. Parents should ensure that their children meet people of their age and behave accordingly.
4. Access to the internet should be given in the living room area where a check can be kept on sites visited.

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