I wonder how many more childhood lost posts I am going to write. But each time I see children having to act in totally un-childlike manners, on account of societal pressures, I don't like it and the desire to try to do something against the miscarriage of childhood, makes me at least want to write something about it. Children, when they're born are supposed to be bundles of joy. But how these bundles soon become burdens is something that we as a society need to revisit and correct. Here are my 3 points to ponder on A Childhood lost - III.
A while ago, at the threshold of the board exams in India, I had written something about how much children are pressurized, while saying that exaltation of poor performance is certainly not needed. Here is that post. Now, as time has passed, the number of cases of youth depression and anxiety over exams, parents piling the pressure and themselves succumbing to the performance epidemic has seemed to have skyrocketed. Kids killing themselves over the stigma of being caught copying? Parents immolating themselves, since their kids refuse to study? It seems bizarre, and really sad. I mean, why? I understand, that given India's population, there is a huge disconnect between the demand and the supply of seats for higher education. The competition is cut throat. But the answer does not lie in psychological terror and too much of importance being put on a three hour dash to the finish line. Why can't schools have a strong support system, that inculcates values of healthy competition, coupled with counselling about all available options? Can't the counselling apply to parents as well, who only want their kids to be investment bankers or doctors or engineers? One may argue that the huge crowds that make up classrooms leave teachers with precious little they can do. I counter back, saying, if a teacher can remember the names of all 60 of her students in class in a year, she can certainly look to the well being of those 60 lives. If not, in times of gore unemployment, please recruit teachers! The system needs revamping and reform. Our education system is strong. We manage to churn out tough world leaders who rise through adversity to conquer the world. All Indian achievers are testimony to our strong primary education. Let us make the facilitators of such education strong as well! Temper management sessions for teachers, psychological counselling for parents, teachers, aptitude testing and so on, must be freely available. We have the means, all we need is the mechanism.
Second, juvenile violence. One may say that India is fairly immune to the 'campus shooting' spree seen in Western countries. But children are children of the world! Again, one must treat the juvenile mind as just that. a tender, impressionable, flower that needs careful tending to. Almost every campus shooter leaves an online trail as a means of posthumous gratification. If the Patriot act can scan peoples' online trails in the wake of terror attacks, don't students' life on campus fall under the purview of internal security? Why can't someone find such psychologically fragile minds and treat them before a tragedy strikes? How much more awareness do people need? So many instances over the past decade. A movie by Gus Van Sant. I guess people are sufficiently aware. But one needs to classify juvenile violence as a problem and take some active steps towards solving this problem. Violence can stem from poverty, domestic violence, rifts at home, or just a curable mental condition. Again, we have the means to counter these causes, and we should, instead of devoting newsprint to a morbid account of these meaningless acts of violence.
Third, poverty among children. This is a problem highly rampant in India, more pronounced in metropolitan cities, where the poverty is in your face. Slumdog Millionaire has brought the slums into scrutiny, but more as part of slum tourism than as a wake up call to the powers-that-be to make a difference. Poor children throng sea-sides to trap the random tourist for making the money needed for their meal. But the childhood innocence remains intact, when at being shunned by a rude person, they just run off in playful abandon, screaming and jumping in groups. Mumbai's infrastructure may be soaring. But every flyover has tears of a two year old and the sweat of a 6 year old in its foundation. That has to stop. The day a 4 year old grimy child stops selling balloons to a well dressed 3 year old, childhood would be regained.
Other posts on A childhood lost - A Childhood Lost , The Pressures of Childhood