Two generations in Kashmir have witnessed insurgency; the lack of peace and the cloud of violence is almost palpable. Kashmiri kids are not immune to this environment.
Children in Kashmir have grown up in the midst of abductions, encounters, bomb blasts, stone pelting and tear-gas shelling. Experts believe that in Kashmir the cycle of violence has affected the psychological level to such extent that behavioural changes in kids are visible.It is said that children pick up political slogans before they learn the alphabets.
According to kashmiri psychiatrists, teenagers suffer from psychiatric disorders because of the violent environment in the state. Schools should have councillors to help the children overcome these psychological disorders. Not only in urban areas of Kashmir, children living in rural areas too are living a nerve-racking lifeRecently a report was published in Community Mental Health Journal and Europe PubMed Central in which a sample of 1,000 school children was taken from 12 schools of Shopian district of south Kashmir.
The most commonly found mental disorders were of anxiety (8.5 per cent), followed by mood disorders (6.3 per cent) and then behavioural disorders (4.3 per cent). Percentage of school-going children with mental disorders in Kashmir is much more than in other states of India. Young boys playing violent games on their smartphones and tabs have only exacerbated matters. There is a growing list of militants who are minors.
We have the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Project of Children) Act, 2013, providing safeguards and protections for both the Juvenile in conflict with law and the Child in need of care and protection. Then we have the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2014 which provide for and prescribes the procedure to attain the affirmed and noble objectives of the Act. However, the implementation of the Act in the State is not satisfactory.
For the reception and rehabilitation of Juveniles in Conflict with Law, the government is required to set up Observation Homes and Special Homes in every district or group of districts. Observation homes are institutions for juveniles while their proceedings are underway. Then there have to be Special Juvenile Police Units. The Police Officers have to be specifically and specially trained in dealing with Juveniles. Then Child Welfare Committee are to be put in place to provide for the care, treatment, protection, rehabilitation and development of the child. The aim is to uphold the rights of the child in Kashmir. J&K government has recently rolled out ICPS in the state and all necessary infrastructures and statutory organizations are being constituted.
Meanwhile, Juvenile criminal graph does not project anything alarming at our place (J&K), even though we have clusters of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered teens spread across the state.
HELP Foundation, J&K is Nodal agency to Childline India Foundation (refered toas Mother NGO under ICPS) for implimenting CHILDLINE projects in Srinagar and Budgam districts. HELP also advocates for protection of rights of children in conflict zone like Kashmir as per the standards of UNCRC.
Below mentioned projects/initiatives have been taken up from time to time to address the needs of children in KAshmir.