Impact of Violence behind Closed doors on the Health and well-being of Children

Years back, I met a girl named Pragya (name changed) through some close friend of mine, who was struggling with herself. Talking to her over a cup of tea, she confessed that she is facing a problem with almost all walks of her life. She fails to adjust amongst people, she feels inferior and under-confident. She thinks she's not worthy of anything and that has become the pattern with which she lives. She doesn't know how to stay happy. Not only that she started associating herself with problems, she thinks economic, verbal abuse is just a part of any normal life.

Having a conversation with her, I realized that her distrust in relationships, her inferiority complex, her negativity and pessimism etc. were nothing but result of the imprints on her subconscious mind which she gathered when she saw her parents having conflict. She said, her parents used to insult each other, telling each other almost eve day that life would have been better in absence of each other. She said she felt ignored, unwanted and as the result she had started looking for love and care from outside.

Through this paper of mine, I intent to question the parenting system in India? And that do we even realize that our behavior has the potential to affect a child's development?

My intension of writing this paper is to ignite the awareness of the fact that our behavior can impact the psychology of a child to an extent that he may turn him/her to be either a depressive or a criminal. One of the principles on which Indian criminological system work is, 'No one is born criminal”. If that is assumed to be true, then just give it a thought, what makes a man a criminal?

Research has shown a direct relationship between the environments a person live in to his/her vulnerability. Conflict between parents, broken marriages, ignorant behavior, lack of care and attention has the tendency to make children vulnerable. Studies have shown that most of the drug addicts come from affluent backgrounds and fell easy prey because they felt ignored at home and started associating themselves to outside world.  Human trafficking is yet another serious issue in which the perpetrator looks for the vulnerable children as easy targets.

UNICEF reports says that some of the biggest victims of Domestic Violence are the smallest. Undoubtedly, women too are subject of domestic violence in hands of men but much has been documented in that regard. Laws have been passed protecting their interest. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is one such law which have been enacted as the result of its ratification of Convention on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by India but the definition of Aggrieved person under section 2(a) of PWDV Act, 2005 only includes 'any women who is, or has been, in domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent”. The Act nowhere states a child to be an aggrieved. The only inclusion of child under the Act has been limited to the purposes of attaining custody. Although the focus of domestic violence has always been on the battered women, it is said that the children raised in homes where women are abused are also victims based on evidence that violence negatively affects them at various levels because these children often go unacknowledged. The children who have been exposed to marital violence have been referred as 'Forgotten, hidden and silent victims” of violence, by Scholars.

But there have been countries which have protected the interest of a child by including them in the definition of Victims under their law against domestic violence. New Zealand is one such country. Although I personally feel that law alone cannot solve this grave issue unless the awareness in that regard for just making the child economically sound cannot substitute the care and love that a child deserves for his overall development.

Not only are the conflicts at home creating an obstacle the development of child's psychology but one of the major causes that obstructs a child's growth is increasing divorce rates.

Being a lawyer, my experience with the matrimonial cases has made me understand that most of the divorces today are the result of mismatch of expectations, ego clashes and lack of adjustments at the behest of parties to the suit. (Not forgetting that there are few genuine cases too). Most of the divorce petitions that will find way to court will have in it Mental cruelty as one of the grounds of divorce. The normal wear and tear of life is addressed as mental cruelty by the parties. They fail to visualize the impact of their decision on the child. Law says there can be no substitute for a mother and a father and that the efforts of both of them are required for the overall development of child. But sadly, the words have turned out to be nothing but dead letters for they have lost their true value. Hindu law says, while dealing with the matters pertaining to children, the welfare of children will be of paramount importance. But unfortunately, parents themselves fail to recognize in the cloud of their egos and in capabilities that their decision is going to have an impact on the child that's beyond their thought process and which has the power to put his/her psyche to crisis.

Effect of Violence on children

High Risk of Children getting abused themselves

  • Physical Violence
  • Economic abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol dependency
  • Juvenile delinquency

Impact on the physical health

  • Depression
  • Bodily Diseases
  • Persistent headaches
  • Digestion Disorders

 Impact on Emotional health

  • Increased Anxiety
  • High Anxiety level
  • Nightmares
  • Insomniac
  • Concentration problem

Impact on Social development

  • Introvert
  • Pessimistic
  • Lack of Self Esteem
  • Under Confidant
  • Lack of trust in relationship

The way ahead: Solution

  • In matters pertaining to divorce, the responsibility of court and near and dear ones is to make parties understand the worth of a relationship with special emphasis on the effect of their decision on their children(if any)
  • There is an ardent need to educate the parents of the effect of their decision during mediation proceedings.
  • The government should initiate the awareness programs regarding Parenting Techniques.
  • Counseling must be made a mandatory part of the curriculum where children should be promoted to speak out their hearts.
  • Social activists should come out with more programs that could bring in change in parenting system in India.
  • Corporate Sector should organize free seminars and conferences to teach self-help in such cases as a part of corporate social responsibility program.
  • Parents should co-operate and try to understand the consequences of their actions.
  • Various literature on parenting and self-help should be made available.
  • Parents and School authorities should Create environments where children can disclose and talk about their experiences

Conclusion

Depression, stress, anxiety, anger, frustration, bodily problems, and obesity are few amongst many problems which have encircled most of us especially the young generation.  Life coaches, meditation masters, yoga experts have enchased the opportunity to earn huge profits. Demand for psychologists and psychiatrist is increasing day by day. The need of the hour is to understand that values, growth and vulnerability sprouts at home. We may not be conscious but our children may be noticing all what's happening around quietly.

This paper of mine is an attempt from my end to make parents aware that there is something that they should know to make their children safe, secure and healthy and to tell all those children to use self-help techniques and talk about it to someone dear.

 

Published in Family Law
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