Fear, stress among children on the rise

Children are far from enjoying the supposedly most idyllic time of their lives as fear, stress, and loneliness seem to be ruling their world.

As many as 100,2 phone calls on children in distress have been reported since October 2011 in the district, says the statistics published by Childline, a national 24-hour free phone emergency outreach service dealing with child issues.

The number of children who have telephoned the centre for emotional support to deal with issues of fear, stress, and loneliness stands at 688 while the previous year’s data reported only 259 cases. The district has recorded 25 cases of missing children, while the cases of rescue from child labour, sexual abuse, and begging stands at 67.

As many as 154 children were found to have no safe shelter and 56 cases of restoration to their respective families had been reported.

Shocking facts

“I am unable to concentrate in my studies” was what a child said when she first made a call.

However, a short counselling revealed that there was more to the issue. The child suffered from serious depression as she was being sexually abused by one of her friends, said Resmy Mampilly, centre coordinator.

Most phone calls from girls mainly revolve around loneliness, emotional and sexual abuse, and worries about family relationships, while boys are stressed by schoolwork, peer pressure, and relationships.

“But the common thread is that there is lack of sharing within the family. Parents are not aware of the problem until we inform them. Most children are afraid to open up to their family. Parents need to develop a healthy relationship with their children so that the child is confident to confide in them,” said Maneesh M. Nair, district coordinator.

The study reports that there has been a sharp increase in the number of cases in which the child takes to drugs and alcohol because they do not know how to cope up with a problem.

What could have been solved through a simple sharing session would then turn into month-long counselling sessions for the children and their families, Mr. Nair added.