Children’s Needs

Children’s Needs

Children, besides being the future of society, are like delicate flowers. Stretch them a little and they break down with effects that linger on and cast a shadow for the rest of their lives. This has a special resonance in conflict zones like Kashmir. Children in conflict zones grow under the shadow of the conflict and bear its costs rather more disproportionately. The reasons pertain to the nature of the conflict and the structuring of children’s consciousness, growth and development by the conflict. This condition cannot, by its very nature, be benign for children caught and trapped in the crucible of conflict. But, the prosaic reality is that children cannot escape this condition unless and until the conflict is resolved. What then can be done to ensure that children in a conflict zone like Kashmir are accorded a life of dignity free of stresses and strains to the extent possible? A multi-pronged and holistic approach to help Kashmiri children cope up is the answer. Broken down, it entails a comprehensive strategy and techniques that span and stretch across domains. One specific component could be psych-emotional sensitization of children to the issues and the prosaic realities of Kashmir that allow them to accept the realities but, at the same time, neither kills their ambition(s), aspirations or life goals. Another important step would be the constituting and formation of special bodies that help children or even young adults recover and recuperate, so to speak, their lives, if they get caught in the effects of the conflict. The typical response of the administration, in this regard, is to take recourse to policing and measures thereof. This method is as flawed as can be. First, an interface with the police of a child or young adult can be traumatic. Second, once a young adult is in the cross hairs of the police, his life and career chances get negatively affected and this can leave an imprimatur for the entire length of his life. While the administration has, in theory, signed MoU’s for Integrated Child Development Schemes, but nothing has actually happened on the ground. In the final analysis, the responsibility for ensuring the mental, emotional, psychical health of our children might fall largely on society. It is high time that society wakes up to the problems and issues of children in Kashmir and does what it takes to help and assist our children.