Global Views
   Middle East & Africa
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 English Teaching
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
Whither the Innocence of Childhood?
Special Contribution
By Shobha Shukla
Children in India

A child's mind was once thought to be a mind of pristine innocence, free of rigid ideas. Alas it is no longer now - ponders Shobha Shukla before we observe yet another Children's Day.

With just few days before yet another 'International Children's Day' on 20 November, it is high time to ponder over the issues in the lead up to the event. This day is marked to commemorate globally the 'Convention on the Rights of the Child' which was signed by the United Nations on this day in 1989 and celebrated as Children's Day. In India this Day is celebrated on 14th November, the birth anniversary of Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of free India and a great lover of children and roses alike.

A child's mind was once thought to be a mind of pristine innocence, free of rigid ideas. Alas it is no longer now. The city kids (all over the world), as young as 3 years old, have very definite views about what they want or not want, be it food, clothes, toys or even household gadgets. By the time they are of 6 or 7 years, they make their parents proud (??) with their deft handling of mobile phones, internet games and TV sets. More than 50% of 3 year olds in UK have a personal TV set in their bedrooms and those in the age group 11-15 years spend almost 53 hours a week in front of the computer/ TV screen.

Thus with eyes glued to the flickering screen images,ears tuned to the i-pod and hands holding a pack of chips/ coke / burger, today's urban child seems to be the very antithesis of a healthy and carefree existence. An alarmingly increasing number of teenagers are becoming emotionally hostile and attention deficit due to their addiction to online games, pornography, cyber sex and chats. So much so that China's health authorities have placed Internet Addiction on par with alcohol/drug abuse and gambling as it is responsible for most juvenile crimes. The situation is so grave that Internet De-addiction Centres are being opened in many south asian countries like China and Thailand as internet use (rather abuse) explodes. Recently Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai, ( a world class premier engineering institute of India) restricted internet access in its hostels saying that addiction to surfing/ gaming/ blogging was making students reclusive and even suicidal and was replacing the old hostel culture of camaraderie with depressive and dysfunctional lifestyles.

From petty thefts to rape, abduction and murder JUVENILE CRIME has entered a deadly new phase in India, mostly in the upper strata of society. In October 2007, 3 Ahmedabad (India) teenagers killed their 6 year old neighbour to raise 25 lakh rupees in ransom to lead a life of luxury. In August 2007,a Mumbai (India) teenager was killed by 4 friends who demanded Rs.2 crore (approximately US$ 500,000) ransom from his parents. A 14 year old girl helped a woman to hack her mother in law in return for a new mobile phone. A teenager, near Sonepat, molested a girl and shot dead her brother when he protested.

Our kids are indeed living in violent times—violence in movies, within families, on the roads. The 'Age of Innocence' is over. It has been overpowered with the lust for easy money and substance abuse. Even those few, who are brilliant achievers in various fields, cite money and power as their main aim in life.

The exuberance of childhood has been replaced with an uncouth brashness. Niceties of manners and finesse of language have become obsolete. Instead, we have the crass I, ME and MYSELF attitude. 'Shit' and 'Bastard' have become the most often used words in kids' conversations.

And all this because primarily we as parents, elders, teachers have failed miserably in our duties and responsibilities. Changing lifestyles, crumbling joint families and a market driven society has left our children rudderless and valueless. Instead of giving them quality time and selfless love we are smothering them with material goods.

With education perceived as the only means of advancement in the ultra-competitive society (especially in Asian countries), parents expectations are unrealistically high. American psychologist Madeline Levine has identified a growing breed of 'helicopter parents', so called because they hover over all aspects of their children's lives. They push them so hard to excel at everything, from Maths to English to sports and music, that they end up as hopeless failures. The struggle to please over ambitious parents leads to violent and immoral behaviour and feelings of self hatred. (I come across many such parents of my pupils. Sadly, even when I point out their fallacy they refuse to listen saying they are doing it for the good of their child).

With both parents working long hours, preparing balanced meals at home becomes difficult. So salty snacks and fizzy drinks have become the main meal of cranky, pampered kids. This is fomenting a health crisis in Japan, the home of sushi, seaweed and world's longest life expectancy. The US food chains are helping it to rear a generation of young sugar addicts spending their adolescence fighting obesity and acne. India unwittingly boasts of being the largest snack market in the Asia Pacific region. Emotional stress is linked with junk food faddism. Only if could make our kids skip the fries and go hard on soft drinks. Housewives could take this as a business opportunity to supply tasty wholesome homemade food to working parents and school canteens.

Only if we would not treat our kids as our prized possessions whose achievements alone are to be showcased as trophies. They need our love and assurance the most when they deserve it the least. Let them know that failures are as much part of growing up as success. Let us consciously try to remove the imbalance of power (still prevalent in most Indian homes) which makes the sons believe that they can get away with everything. Let us give them a sense of belonging and not expensive gifts. Let us respect the law and not indulge in a sick display of opulence.

We may have our own dreams about our children but as they grow older we need to respect (rather than kill) their interests and choices in life ,as happens so often literally in Indian homes in the name of 'honour killings' of adult sons and daughters.

Let our children grow to be a trifle more sensitive about the needs of the millions of those underprivileged Indian children who are working under miserable conditions in stone quarries, in the carpet industry, as domestic help, as ragpickers or in the sex market, with no access to schools and two square meals a day.

On this coming Children's Day let us try to gift our children their 'Age of Innocence' sans junk food, TV/internet abuse, conspicuous consumption, sedentary lifestyle and an insensitive couldn't-care-less attitude. Let us guide them lovingly yet firmly on their path of self discovery.

Related Articles
    Whither Women's Reproductive Health in Asia ...
    Build the World We Want: Healthy Future for All
    New TB Treatment Breakthroughs Must Reach the ...
    How Will Children Living with HIV Grow Up ...
    Writing Is on the Wall: Pictorial Health ...
    Failing on the Basics: Are We Able to Break ...
    A Bouquet of Novel Compounds: New Treatment ...
    One Size Does Not Fit All: Expanding the ...
    Tale of Two Pandemics: Follow the Science and ...
    Governments Must Adopt a Strong Political ...
    What Is the Ring?
    Disability Is Not Limited to the Body, It Is ...
    Accelerating Progress on Sexual & Reproductive ...
    Stop This Shaming of Menstruation
    Complacency Breeds Failure: Consolidate ...
    For Age Is Opportunity No Less Than Youth ...
    New Study Pegs the Number of TB Cases in India ...
    Self-stigma: Let Us Do More Than Just "Ttalk ...
    We Cannot Eliminate TB If We Leave Children ...
    MDR-TB Treatment Rgimen: Short Indeed Is ...
    A Plain Face Can Take the Sheen Out of Deadly ...
    Strike at the Root of the Problem to Kill TB
    Antibiotic Use Is Driving Antibiotic Resistance
    Big Push for Transgender and Hijra Welfare
    Where There Is a Will There Is a Way: Teeja ...
    Lung Cancer: Difficult to Diagnose, Difficult ...
    Long Road to Justice: Human Rights of Female ...
    Medical Malpractices: Is There Light at the ...
    Overcoming Roadblocks in Translating ...
    Management of Respiratory Diseases beyond ...
    Gender Justice to Be at the Heart of ...
    Connecting the Dots: Tobacco Use, Diabetes, ...
    It Is Time To Control Asthma
    Call for No More New HIV Infected Children
    Smoking Goes Electronic
    Break the Silence around Cancer
    How Can You Treat Your Illness Unless You Take ...
    Asthma Medicines Still Unaffordable for Many
    New Technique to Prevent Diabetic Lower-Limb ...
    Cycle Beads: The Bead String for Family ...
    Beware: All Forms of Tobacco Are Harmful!
    Mother's Milk Is the Best Nutrition for the ...
    Where Is The TB Quilt, Nay Mask?
    Hello, This Is Nature’s Call From Garbage ...
    Tuberculosis: Ugly Scar on Beautiful Childhood
    Towards A More Enabling Environment for ...
    What’s Cooking in Kitchen: Peace or Conflict?
    Feed Your Child Well: Prevent Pneumonia
    Costly Medicines Mean Debt or Death for People ...
    AIDS Epidemic at a Critical Juncture in ...
    Watch Your Tongue Mr. Minister!
    Free Trade Agreements: A Threat To People's ...
    In The Pursuit Of Healthy Happiness
    Empowering Rural Women
    Say Yes To Life: Say No To Tobacco
    Homophobia Is A Human Rights Issue
    Viva La Woman Power
    Rubbish Rubbish Food and Embrace Healthy ...
    Of Music and Divinity
    Wake Up Call on Childhood Obesity after Years ...
    A New Hope of Life for Our Ailing Education ...
    Reminiscences of Egypt
    Do Not Break the Nucleus
    Whispers of Sanity in the Frenzy of Madness
    Tobacco Cessation Can Piggy-back Ride on ...
    In The Spirit Of Freedom (from Tobacco)
    World Conference on Tobacco or Health to ...
    Requiem for Purity
    Rhapsody 2008 -- a Symphony of Different ...
    'Diabetes Doctor Is at Your Doorstep' in ...
    Activists Decry India's Deferment of Pictorial ...
    South-East Asian Diabetes Summit to Open Up in ...
    Special on Universal Children's Day
    The Wrath Of God
    World Food Scarcity and the Challenges of ...
    Victim of Terrorism -- the Common Man
    Teachers' Day: The Sacrificial Goat
    Hiroshima Day: Let Us Worship Peace and Shun ...
    Food for Thought -- on World Food Day
    Love Is the Missing Link in War-on-Terror
    Irom Sharmila: The Iron Lady
    India Poised And Shining
    Is It Just Another Day in Life of Indian Woman?
    He Has His Cake and Eats It Too
    To Be Young, to Be Married, and to Be in India
    The Mad Mad World of Ads

Other Articles by Shobha Shukla
    Whither Women's Reproductive Health in Asia ...
    Build the World We Want: Healthy Future for ...
    New TB Treatment Breakthroughs Must Reach ...
    A Bouquet of Novel Compounds: New Treatment ...
    One Size Does Not Fit All: Expanding the ...

Ms. Shobha Shukla has been teaching Physics at India's noted Loreto Convent, and has been writing for The Hindustan Times and Women's Era in the past. She serves as Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She can be contacted at






The Seoul Times, Shinheung-ro 36ga-gil 24-4, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 82-10-6606-6188
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange