Child Issues

There are various child issues or situations that one might be faced with, both within their families or if they are living in the streets.   The following are 5 of the main focus areas.

Abuse

Child abuse is becoming a curse in the so called erudite and cultured Kerala Society. Day after day countless number of abuse cases is being reported by the media not forgetting the fact that there is so many which go unreported due to many reasons. As per the recent statistics published by State Crime Records Bureau there is 200 percent increase in reported crimes against children in Kerala of which rape cases top the list. It is relevant to note that this climb in numbers started happening from 2011. It is perplexing to find that 97 percentage of the abuse of children are perpetrated within the family by the closest of kin or by the teachers in schools. When care givers turn into abusers the impact of the abuse linger lifelong. Drastic and stringent steps need to be taken to rescue children from being abused. Children require education to identify the offender and get help from people they can trust.

Neglect

Family courts in Kerala have witnessed a 350 percent increase in divorces over the last decade. Data provided by the State Government reveals that the Kerala capital, Thiruvananthapuram, is the capital of divorce cases too. As per recent statistics there is an average of 70 cases filed each day across 20 family courts set up all over Kerala. This is the highest in Asia. The total number of cases registered during 2011 comes to a staggering figure of 44,236. We do not delve into the reasons behind this but we cannot neglect the fact that this has definite and prolonged effect on the integrated growth of their children. The constant quarrels among parents and lack of care for children lead to loneliness, stress, depression and diffidence among children. This can also negatively influence their personality development and concentration in study. Neglect is a serious issue affecting the lives of children in Kerala.

Stress

There was a survey conducted recently on prevalence of stress among School children between age of 4 and 17. This was a school based study evaluating children of all grades from L.K.G to XII, in order to cover all age groups from 4-17 years. Subjects were taken from seven identified schools from the capital city of Kerala. The results indicate that 93% to 100% of the children aged 4 to 17 years showed medium to moderate stress while 1.9% severe stress. Only 1.79% came under normal group. This suggests that in every age more than 90% of the school children of the state are facing above normal levels of stress and tension. This result agree with the observations made by many psychologists, doctors and counselors that most of the children of today are facing severe stress which they find very hard to cope with. Many of the psychosomatic problems and suicides commonly seen in our children are found to be the results of this stress. More than 97% of the children above 10 years showed above average stress. Children between 13 to15 showed moderate or severe level of stress than any other age groups. Kerala ranks highest in suicides comparing with all the other states of India. Though most of these suicides are `family suicides’, suicide among adolescent children, especially girls, is on the rise chiefly due to educational stress.

Labour and Beggary

There are an estimated 17 million child labourers in India, the world's highest number of working children, often subjected to exploitative and hazardous conditions. 80% of these are involved in agriculture, 19% of children employed work as domestic help, 90% working children are in rural India and 85% of working children are in the unorganized sectors.

These large numbers engaged in underage employment are due to numerous factors. Children work due to demand for cheap labour, millions work to help their families as parent and other adults in the family do not have enough income to support everyone, or because there are no other options - i.e. there is no access to schools. In more extreme (but not uncommon) cases, those families living in poverty often 'sell' their children to contractors who promise the children lucrative jobs in cities. Tragically, they end up being employed in brothels, hotels and domestic work, whilst others run away and end up as street children.

Those on the street often make 'a living' rag-picking. They can be seen on rubbish dumps alongside animals, rummaging for recyclables which they then go on to sell for a handful of rupees that are quickly spent on food and entertainment, or squandered due to an inability to manage money.

The major impacts of child labour relate to both education and health. These child labourers forfeit their right to schooling and other training whilst they continue to work, and are also denied the opportunities to play and rest. Health wise, many of these children suffer from exhaustion, work-related injury, and other physical and mental afflictions.

Migrants

In recent years there is a large flow of migrant labourers into Kerala. As the wage earning possibility is triple that of their home states and as there is a dearth in unskilled labourers from Kerala itself, the stakes is high for these migrant people. Though there are no exact data regarding the numbers of these migrants there are large numbers from Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, North India and the North East. Many of these People bring their families and children are also made to work in small scale industries, households and the like. Increasing child labour in the wake of the influx of migrant labourers into the State in recent years has begun to assume serious proportions of human trafficking. There are also many children who wander the streets without possibility for education as the medium is different and no ways are devised to have proper surveys and interventions from the part of the Government.