-Written by Jaden Almeida
It’s no secret that the societies we live in shape us into the people we are. We talk, act and feel differently based on the places we call home. A comfortable childhood with sufficient education, or its lack thereof can have huge impacts on a growing child. The contrasting lifestyles, privileges, and even parental support, all hugely influenced by a family’s financial strength, teach children different lessons, some more harmful than others.
A person’s childhood differs greatly based on their family’s financial background. Were they poverty ridden? Did they have a privileged childhood? Either way, there is research to show that both impoverished and affluent children come with their own set of mental health disorders, due to factors ranging from education to parental teachings. Children brought up in poorer societies like slums, have different priorities than children who were brought up in well to do neighborhoods. This is caused by one major factor: money.
Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said: ‘money often costs too much’ and in the case of destitute children, this is sadly quite true. Due to their financial instability, the parents of these children almost never prioritize educating their young ones. Instead, their main focus is to earn so that they can have their next meal and a place to stay. This, sad as it is, is a reality for over 86 million poverty-stricken people in India, who make up 6% of its population. And, in addition to their disregard for education, these parents usually force their children into working so that they have more members to contribute to their overall income. Research shows that over 10.1 million children between the ages of 5 and 16 are engaged in some form of work in order to help provide for their families. This overload of responsibility forces them to grow up too fast, resulting in psychiatric conditions like ADHD, anxiety, ODD and depression, which for most of them goes undiagnosed and untreated due to their limited knowledge on the subject, and their limited resources.
On the other hand, children who grow up in wealthier households, have the exact opposite problem. Due to their privileged lifestyle, they are under immense pressure to be ‘model’ students, both by their parents and by themselves. This causes high levels of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and in certain cases- drug and alcohol abuse. Some youth even resort to committing inconsistent acts of delinquency like stealing and defacing property. Though these children have the means to help themselves by going for therapy with a professional therapist, it is a rarity for them to actually do so.
Another major issue affecting the poorer parts of India is the restriction of educating women and girls, mostly because in today’s patriarchal society, girls in rural areas are made to marry off by the age of 18 -giving way to intimate partner violence- have children, and spend their lives taking care of their families. In reality, 47% of girls are forced to marry off their futures by the age of 18. Taking place in villages especially, these customs are followed without much resistance, and girls are pulled out of school before they can reach the 10th grade, to help look after their younger siblings while their brothers are allowed to study until much later. In fact, 53% of girls between the ages of 5 and 9 are illiterate in India. Studies even show that for every year a girl pursues her education, her earning potential goes up by 20%. Yet somehow, despite all this, it is still believed that girls should not be educated. These girls are being forced to do so many things against their will, it’s almost given that they have mental and emotional scars from the trauma. Girls and women from rural areas are faced with severe depression, anxiety, perinatal disorders, and substance abuse. Some even battle with suicidal tendencies, which goes to show how much of an impact their society has on their well being.
Education is imperative, a basic right, that should be taken seriously. The aftermath of not educating a child properly is massive, and it is clear that we as a society should make it our goal to help whoever we can, however we can.