Because of living in stress, and the mountainous pressure of bringing food to children’s plates, a slew of reports confirm that the flowers of God have gone rotten because of our failure to understand their inner-minds. Sadly, the abuse on children is all-time high. According to UNICEF Africa, 36.8% of children were reportedly abused in August 2020 alone. Is Bangladesh immune to child violence? We know what the answer is.
Have we initiated enough dialogue to internalize the mental scar that our children have been going through? Do our children deserve this fate? Is not it time for us to judge our actions? Have not we failed them? Although we are confabulating stories about drawing up a better world, from the depth of our hearts, a bevy of parents do not believe in what they say, because we ourselves know that the better world we are imagining that would turn out to be, is not what our biological and ideological parents had attempted to picturize for us.Before the upsurge of covid-19 cases, our primary concern was our failure to spend quality time with our children. Due to the never-ending rate of inflation, both parents had to work full-time for bearing the soaring price. In many cases, single-income parents, due to the dearth of jobs, overbearing patriarchal thoughts, and the lack of alternatives; such as cheap child-care facilities, a large number of families had to bear the brunt of sharing food among the jam-packed hungry children. That is why, many of our children are malnourished, because they do not get the right portion of food. As many parents lost jobs and lives, the uncertainty among children has grown, resulting in panic attacks, tantrums, depression, drugs abuse, and hysteria.
Meaningless to say, our education sector is so poor that not many of these children will see the light of knowledge because of the sub-standard quality of learning. Despite government initiatives in improving teaching standards, especially at the primary level, I am afraid, not many teachers have groomed themselves up to follow a better approach to teaching, which would allow their students to participate in discussion-sessions in droves. Their mercenary tendencies have abrupted the growth of education. Nowadays, students do not want to acquire wisdom. They are happy to receive grades without learning at all. We are not making them think like philosophers.
The low-income groups have resorted to violence. The abuse on women and children has quadrupled. Even among the bourgeoisie, we see a wide range of nefarious activities. Parents among the subaltern groups have grown angrier because they are unable to bear the pangs and pains of hunger. The lack of vaccine efficacy and the expensive digital teaching tools have created further complications. The digital learning system, as one of my colleagues, Mr. Rifat Ahmed writes in his research, has created a never-seen gulf between the rich and the poor. Education has turned into an elite form of learning, unimaginably under our nose.
As most children have stayed at home, boredom has creeped in because of the lack of playful activities at home, and outside. Moreover, their parents’ sudden reduction in income has made these poor children experience Oliver Twist’s life without even reading Charles Dicken’s novel. Among the have-nots, the problem has a meteoric rise. Children born of affluent parents, though live in apparent luxuries, have also dealt with mental-health problems. In middle-income groups, much to their utter despair, parents have bought extra technical devices for ensuring children’s better education. Covid has castrated us physiologically, psychologically, and financially.
We have not given our children a room for improvement. Moreover, we do not give them enough shelter and protection when they are in trouble. The famous 18th century English philosopher, John Locke, popularized a terminology, called “Tabula Rasa”, which means, “an empty slate”. In his opinion, human beings are born naïve, like an empty white board. When we are born infants, our instinct propels us to search for food. We lose our innocence by the passage of time, during which, we lose our angelic identity, and become subjects to the doctrines of the mainstream society.
We receive behavioral guidance from teachers and parents, alike. Without their astute leadership, we find it cumbersome to choose between good and bad. Our teachers and parents try to find the best form of technique for teaching us normative rules and regulations. Punishment, whether it is justified or not, is one of the mediums for them to teach children didacticism. Instead of beating our children, we should try to identify the problems that our children have been facing. If we let our children do the talking, and find what leads them behaving poorly with others, then we will find fifty-per cent of the solution.Therefore, guardians of all types should provide counselling sessions to children. They should let them know how to behave with others. At the same time, I do believe that children should be allowed to make mistakes. If parents interfere in the scheme of things, children do lose their confidence, and are prone to making thinly-placed judgments on others in the future. Academic gurus and legal guardians are ought to make some ground rules and encourage their children to follow them without imposing them by the use of force.
Undoubtedly, children are the creatures of this beautiful garden. In Christianity and Islam, the story of the original sin shows that the Almighty gives several warnings before evicting Adam (PbuH) and Eve (PbuH) from Heaven. The Supreme Being does not give them a second chance notwithstanding the pleas made by HIS creations to stay in heaven. Not only parents and teachers, other agencies of society must focus on behavioral issues of the future generation.
If children become better citizens in the upcoming days, the future of a society glitters. Let us not punish children while teaching manners. I believe in striking conversations with all the stakeholders involved. We all commit errors. Punishment is not a solution. It forces children to learn manners initially, but the mental agony they face in their childhood, gives them an eternal trauma, resulting in dubiousness and detrimental health conditions. Instead of starting everything from the zero, parents should give children didactic lessons for sowing the seeds of a brighter future. I am not the most perfect father in the world. Trying to be better than what I am at the moment! Let us all try to be better than what we were yesterday. No doubt, the world will be a better place if we all strive to make the world “a better place”. The spirit of Michael Jackson will happily take a moon-walk. Let us bat to batter indiscrimination to better these battered souls.
The writer is lecturer, department
of English, Chittagong Independent University