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Dhaka Tribune

Psychiatric disorder makes children anti-social

Update : 05 Aug 2013, 03:32 AM

Street children of Bangladesh are faced with psychiatric disorder, while their life is running the risk of it when they are most vulnerable.

Having a carefree upbringing in an unsound vicinity, they hardly go through childish excitement, often waging quarrel with their fellows.

A sense of mistrust grows among them with the people they live with since childhood. Addiction seizes the adolescents posing risks to their subsequent development of adulthood, thereby leading them to antisocial activities. At Chandrima Uddyan, Kiron and Rashid live, who both quarrel with each other over trivial matters.

Rashid takes drugs while his brother Kiron threatens to tell their mother "“ who runs a tea stall "“ about him getting hooked on drugs. Rashid flies into a rage and injures Kiron. This is a common phenomenon that goes on and on.

Since early morning, children go out for making money by selling newspapers.

A tiny boy Rashed of about three and a half feet tall presses about 30 copies of various newspapers against his lap and coax people into buying them. "I finish my daily sale within 11:30am," he said, adding that after that nobody buys newspapers.

The children struggle the whole day to make money by doing various activities. Talking to Rashed and Kiron, it was learnt that after newspaper sale they return to their dwelling to take breakfast. "Following this, we go to sell flowers," they added.

Asked how much he earns per day, Rashed keeps wavering because he could not remember the amount of his daily income.

His mother Sahanur said Rashed forgets everything as he has been suffering from amnesia.

Child rights activists blamed the unsound atmosphere in which the urchins grow up and the government's insufficient steps in rehabilitating them. They warned that one day, there would be a number of children suffering from mental problems unless the issues are addressed well in advance.

Guendelman and Samuels "“ child rights activists "“ said in their research work, street children face resistance in their surroundings to their psychosocial and physical development.

Child labour in workshops, construction or transport sectors creates a burden on physical and mental health on the urchins, the research found.

Another research "The Nature and Extent of Homelessness in Developing Countries" found that 50% of the total homeless population sleeping on the city pavements are children who are engaged in hazardous jobs. It observed child labour is ignored and when the children are forced to work they take it to their heart. They suspect nobody wants the children's good and they are born to serve some privileged persons.

According to Clinical Psychologist Dr Asif Mohammad, children who are in risky jobs have no opportunity to build their natural psychosocial health. Long work hours breed frustration, plus resists development of cognitive skills among the children, thus making them become introvert and uncommunicative, he said.

A significant portion of child labour in construction and welding sectors are suffering from psychological immaturity and 40% of them are affected by abnormal psychological growth, he said.

It is high time the government takes pragmatic steps to rehabilitate street children in line with international organisations taking stands for street children, said the rights body.

The UN says the rights of children must be protected from exploitations and hazardous jobs, and stresses their education for physical, mental, moral and social development, they added.

Sultan Uddin Ahmed, assistant executive director of Bangladesh Institute of Labour Studies, admitted that there are a few programmes to address the issues of street children.

"We have only education and social awareness programmes, but there is no medicare programme for the street children," he said. 

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