In their minds, Through their eyes!November 8, 2017
When I first met Veeru ( name changed) at the de-addiction centre for juvenile delinquents in Sewa Kutir- SPYM Sahyog, I was struck by his concentration level and his love for colours. Thoroughly enjoying the vibrancy of colours while painting match boxes, he started telling me about his family and lifestyle. Veeru’s father was an alcoholic and he passed away when he was very young. His mother got married to someone else and left him.
“I was in dire need of money. Hence I had to do what I did”, says Veeru.
The need for survival is the biggest need that drives any species. Faced with a choice between survival and landing up in the delinquent centre, what else could a fifteen year old Veeru have done?
Eighteen year old Nawas ( name changed) has a happy family of mother, father and siblings at home. He was studying in class ten before coming to the centre and his mother wanted him to be a lawyer.
“My friends told me it was cigarette. I did not know what was inside the roll. When I started enjoying it, I needed more of it”, says Nawas.
Psychologists suggest that late teens are an age when there are extensive hormonal changes in boys and girls. There is a need for thrill and excitement. Such is the age when the activities of the peer group always appeal more than those of elders or other family members. When this peer pressure leads to drug abuse, there begins a vicious cycle. Drug consumption leads to a need for more drugs and this leads to illegal activities to obtain the means to get more drugs. In the process, the teenager might end up selling drugs to other teenagers.
Kamal ( name changed) is eighteen years old and he lives with parents too. Enthusiastic and full of life, he aspires to work very hard once he goes out.
“My girlfriend had left me. Drugs gave me a lot of comfort”, says Kamal .
We live in a society and culture where there is an obsession with finding ‘love’. The movies we watch, the songs we listen to and the books we read, all seem to reinforce this belief in a need for a partner. The need becomes all the more strong when we see our friends indulging in ‘love’. In such a situation, when a relationship fails, there is almost a sense of guilt and shame and also an urgency to prove one’s heroism. If not a relationship, then perhaps there are other ways to fit in to the peer group.
The dazzling eyes of twelve year old Raam(name changed) had caught my attention the very first day that I had stepped into the centre. His agility and chirpiness had literally won my heart. Experimentation, peer pressure, these are traits associated with boys and girls in their mid teens. What could have led a boy who has not even stepped into his teens to substance abuse? It is possible that we are exposing our kids to too much television and media influence. Research suggests that children are most prone to being affected by what they see on the television screen. It is also possible that there is an excessive companionship and dependency on older boys in the peer group who become role models for the younger ones.
Delinquency is not just a social problem; it is the root of a much bigger social problem. Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory suggests that an individual’s personality is mostly established at the stage of early childhood. Early experiences have a large role to play in the development of personality and continue to affect the individual’s behaviour in later years. It is essential that children go through a healthy development during the early years of their lives. The rise in energy levels that takes place during the adolescent years should be directed towards productive activities. Keeping them engaged in art, music, dance, drama, sports and so on, gives them a proper outlet for the aggression within, as well as helps in their personality development. Furthermore, this aggression needs to be kept in control through parental check and disciplinary measures. Most importantly, children need to be given an ‘I can make a difference’ boost. If they are constantly reminded that their actions will make a difference to society then they will be more prone to indulge in activities which are beneficial to them.
However, the biggest problem arises when children do not have the means to ensure that the above mentioned suggestions are enforced. Poverty or absence of parents and teachers as role models is the bigger problems that lead to delinquency since they are extremely difficult to solve. In such a situation, it is imperative that the state and society steps in to ensure that the children are not left to rot. After all, the kids are the responsibility of the society as a whole and their actions will affect the society as a whole too. It is our responsibility to make sure that every Veeru, Nawas, Kamal or Raam grows up to be an ideal role model for generations to come.
– Adrija Roychowdhury is a Masters student studying History from Delhi University. With a keen interest in theatre, adventure and human stories; she aspires to become a journalist in the future. She is currently, also volunteering at the Foundation to write about different narratives of human motivation, social justice and human rights.