18th February 2020 : The Hindu Editorials Notes : Mains Sure Shot  

No. 1.

Question – given the case of the arrest of a mother and the principal of a primary school in Bidar, karnataka and the interrogation of children by uniformed policemen, comment on how this affects the child and why we need to think more seriously about it.


Context – The event in Bidar.


  • Children are the ones who are very vital for deciding how the world is gonna be after some years.
  • The emotional, social and physical development of young children has a direct effect on their overall development and on the adult they will become. That is why understanding the need to invest in very young children is so important, so as to maximize their future well-being.

The recent turn of events:

  • The mother (a single parent) of a student studying in a primary school in Bidar, Karnataka was imprisoned on the pretext that she had contributed to a script being enacted in the primary school function which was as quoted – seditious in nature.
  • Further the arrest of the principal for allowing it to be performed in her school, and the interrogation of the children by uniformed police officers in the absence of any child welfare workers have proved traumatic for the primary school children. Many children have stopped going to school since then.
  • These traumatic experiences are not only a violation of the fundamental rights of the child but are severely damaging to their mental health. As the media reported, one child said when her mother was finally released, “I felt lonely and sad because all I have is my mother. I have never lived without her for a single day. So I was terrified.”
  • This is not a standalone event. Consider the harrowing accounts of the experiences of children in a shelter home in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, where young girls were kept locked up for most of the day and where they were raped, after being sedated, at night. Investigators observed many signs of mental health problems, for example remarking on how “strangely they behaved”, laughing and crying in rapid sequence, remaining silent for long periods, and appearing to be severely depressed. Many girls had self-inflicted injuries, a behaviour associated with trauma in children. Conditions in other shelter homes were not much better, with appalling stories of cruelty and torture, and several instances of suicidal behaviour and mental breakdown.
  • Yet another example of unspeakable violence has unfolded in the past week with dozens of young women being insulted, paraded and forced to remove their underwear to prove they were not on their period by their principal and school staff after a used personal hygiene product was found in a garden of their school, in Bhuj, Gujarat.

Understanding what is emotional and psychological trauma:

  • Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world.
  • Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm.
  • It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized.

Effects of psychological trauma:

  • Psychological trauma can leave a child struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave the child feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people.
  • If a child’s psychological trauma symptoms don’t ease up—or if they become even worse—they can be unable to move on from the event for a prolonged period of time, they may be experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • While emotional trauma is a normal response to a disturbing event, it becomes PTSD when their nervous system gets “stuck” and they remain in psychological shock, unable to make sense of what happened or process their emotions.
  • Also children who are exposed to abuse and trauma may develop what is called a ‘ heightened stress response’. This can impact their ability to regulate their emotions, lead to sleep difficulties, lower immune function, and increase the risk of a number of physical illnesses throughout adulthood.

Specific impacts:

  1. Attachment and relationships – The majority of abused or neglected children have difficulty developing a strong healthy attachment to a caregiver. Children who do not have healthy attachments have been shown to be more vulnerable to stress. They have trouble controlling and expressing emotions, and may react violently or inappropriately to situations. A child with a complex trauma history may have problems in romantic relationships, in friendships, and with authority figures, such as teachers or police officers.
  2. Physical health : body and brain – From infancy through adolescence, the body’s biology develops. Normal biological function is partly determined by environment. When a child grows up afraid or under constant or extreme stress, the immune system and body’s stress response systems may not develop normally. Later on, when the child or adult is exposed to even ordinary levels of stress, these systems may automatically respond as if the individual is under extreme stress.
  • For example, an individual may experience significant physiological reactivity such as rapid breathing or heart pounding, or may “shut down” entirely when presented with stressful situations. These responses, while adaptive when faced with a significant threat, are out of proportion in the context of normal stress and are often perceived by others as “overreacting” or as unresponsive or detached.
  • stress in an environment can impair the development of the brain and nervous system. An absence of mental stimulation in neglectful environments may limit the brain from developing to its full potential. Children with complex trauma histories may develop chronic or recurrent physical complaints, such as headaches or stomach aches. Adults with histories of trauma in childhood have been shown to have more chronic physical conditions and problems. They may engage in risky behaviors that compound these conditions (e.g., smoking, substance use, and diet and exercise habits that lead to obesity).
  1. Emotional responses – Children who have experienced complex trauma often have difficulty identifying, expressing, and managing emotions, and may have limited language for feeling states. They often internalize and/or externalize stress reactions and as a result may experience significant depression, anxiety, or anger. Their emotional responses may be unpredictable or explosive. A child may react to a reminder of a traumatic event with trembling, anger, sadness, or avoidance.
  • Difficulty managing emotions is pervasive and occurs in the absence of relationships as well. Having never learned how to calm themselves down once they are upset, many of these children become easily overwhelmed and also have an increased likelihood of being fearful all the time and in many situations. They are more likely to experience depression as well.
  1. Dissociation – Dissociation is often seen in children with histories of complex trauma. When children encounter an overwhelming and terrifying experience, they may dissociate, or mentally separate themselves from the experience. They may perceive themselves as detached from their bodies, on the ceiling, or somewhere else in the room watching what is happening to their bodies. They may feel as if they are in a dream or some altered state that is not quite real or as if the experience is happening to someone else.
  • Although children may not be able to purposely dissociate, once they have learned to dissociate as a defense mechanism they may automatically dissociate during other stressful situations or when faced with trauma reminders. Dissociation can affect a child’s ability to be fully present in activities of daily life and can significantly fracture a child’s sense of time and continuity. As a result, it can have adverse effects on learning, classroom behavior, and social interactions.
  1. Behaviour – A child with a complex trauma history may be easily triggered or “set off” and is more likely to react very intensely. The child may struggle with self-regulation (i.e., knowing how to calm down) and may lack impulse control or the ability to think through consequences before acting. As a result, complexly traumatized children may behave in ways that appear unpredictable, oppositional, volatile, and extreme.
  • Such a child may seem “spacey”, detached, distant, or out of touch with reality. Complexly traumatized children are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such as self-harm, unsafe sexual practices, and excessive risk-taking such as operating a vehicle at high speeds. They may also engage in illegal activities, such as alcohol and substance use, assaulting others, stealing, running away, and/or prostitution, thereby making it more likely that they will enter the juvenile justice system.
  1. Cognition : Thinking and Learning – Children with complex trauma histories may have problems thinking clearly, reasoning, or problem solving. They may be unable to plan ahead, anticipate the future, and act accordingly. When children grow up under conditions of constant threat, all their internal resources go toward survival. When their bodies and minds have learned to be in chronic stress response mode, they may have trouble thinking a problem through calmly and considering multiple alternatives.
  2. Self-concept and future orientation – Children learn their self-worth from the reactions of others, particularly those closest to them. Caregivers have the greatest influence on a child’s sense of self-worth and value. Abuse and neglect make a child feel worthless and despondent. A child who is abused will often blame him- or herself. It may feel safer to blame oneself than to recognize the parent as unreliable and dangerous. Shame, guilt, low self-esteem, and a poor self-image are common among children with complex trauma histories.
  • Also a child may view himself as powerless, “damaged,” and may perceive the world as a meaningless place in which planning and positive action is futile. They have trouble feeling hopeful. Having learned to operate in “survival mode,” the child lives from moment-to-moment without pausing to think about, plan for, or even dream about a future.
  1. Long-term health consequences – Traumatic experiences in childhood have been linked to increased medical conditions throughout the individuals’ lives. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is a longitudinal study that explores the long-lasting impact of childhood trauma into adulthood. The ACE Study includes over 17,000 participants ranging in age from 19 to 90. Researchers gathered medical histories over time while also collecting data on the subjects’ childhood exposure to abuse, violence, and impaired caregivers. Results indicated that nearly 64% of participants experienced at least one exposure, and of those, 69% reported two or more incidents of childhood trauma. Results demonstrated the connection between childhood trauma exposure, high-risk behaviors (e.g., smoking, unprotected sex), chronic illness such as heart disease and cancer, and early death.

Overall :

  • The “intangible losses” of pain, sorrow, and reduced quality of life to victims and their families.
  • Such immeasurable losses may be the most significant cost of child maltreatment.
  • Now the question lies that do we really want the future of our nation to grow up like this?

Way ahead:

  • As the saying goes, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. It will require the coordination of various stakeholders – the political will, the NGOs, the right child activists, the police and overall us the people to stop the menace of child abuse and help their rehabilitation.
  • The government too has be aware of the long-term impact of their policies not only on the adults but also the children who are the future bearers of the nation.
  • Also the policemen need to be more sensitive when dealing with children.


No. 2.


Note – Another article on Women in the army has already been analysed in detail. Refer to the article of 14th February.

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