Our children are extremely vulnerable.This is particularly so in transition societies undergoing rapid social and economic transformations. Kerala is no exception to this. Concern is heard from many sources about an alarming rise of sense of insecurity, loss of purpose in life, major emotional and psychological problems, socially deviant behaviour and crime rate in children.Our children face multiple risks in the modern world.At home, this happens whencaregivers are unable to play a responsible and mentoring role;in schools through the influence of peers and other adults.
Crimes by children are on the rise. The National Crime Record Bureau reports that crimes committed by children have increased by 145% in the past decade.Many of our children are drawn into a socially deviant life outside mainstream society and many are even enmeshedin a criminal life, out of which they are unable to extricate themselves. In 2010, Kozhikode City Police arrested more than 60 teenagers involved in theft of motorbikes, gold, computers, mobiles and cash. These incidents involved both boys and girls, and even included youth from financially and socially advanced sections of society. Subsequent investigation revealed that:
- A large number of young people were also involved in crime-related activities, viz. theft, robbery and dealing in stolen goods and destruction of evidence.
- A number of teenagers, including girls, were engaging in socially deviant behaviour such as underage sexual activity, illicit use of drugs, etc.
- Substance abuse among youngsters utilizingeasily obtained items such as nail polish remover, petrol, etc.
- Contraceptives were found in the schoolbags of girls in several city schools, indicating their involvement in sexual activity, either with peers or with adults
- Students were in the habit of using supposedly beauty-enhancing tablets, which were actually illegal and addictive drugs.
Research on psychological and emotional factors underlying chidlren's involvement in deviant behaviour reveals disheartening facts. Theseinclude:
- 14 -20% of our children are affected by mental illness,
- Suicide is the third most common cause of death among our adolescents,
- Addictionsin childhood include:
- Reports of children coming to the class after consuming alcohol,
- Bringing addictive substances to the school
- Rampant use of Pan Masala, Hans, Gudka, Whitener etc.
- Pornography and other such undesirable materials through use of mobile phones, internet etc.
- Children with behavioral disorders.