Thursday, November 23, 2017

Unfolding the reasons behind a rape by a four year old.

A four-and-a-half-year-old boy has been booked for raping a classmate inside the classroom as well as the washroom of a prominent private school in west Delhi on Friday, police said.
The girl, who is of the same age, told her mother that the boy used his finger and a sharpened pencil to assault her sexually.
The assault caused wounds in the child’s private parts, her mother said.
Though they registered a case of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was registered, police were unsure how to proceed with the prosecution because of the suspect’s age.
 The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides children below seven years of age certain protections against prosecutions..
In her statement to police, the girl’s mother said the child complained of pain in her lower abdomen after returning from school on Friday. The girl kept complaining sporadically, but the mother ignored it thinking it was “one of her tantrums”.
The girl began crying that night and told her mother about the alleged assault. She told her mother that a boy from her class unbuttoned her pants in the classroom and used his finger to assault her.
“She tried pushing him, but could not get away as other children had left and there was no staff around,” the mother stated in the first information report (FIR).
In the FIR, the child’s mother stated that she complained to the schoolteacher through a text message that night. She informed the school again on Saturday, but the authorities allegedly did not cooperate with her and instead asked her to give a written complaint on Monday.
Since her daughter’s pain did not subside, she rushed her to a hospital where she was treated as well as a medico-legal case made. A police case was then registered.
The mother alleged that there was no class teacher or even an ayah, or help, in either the classroom or washroom at the time of the assault.
She said her daughter’s delayed exit from the classroom, as she saw in CCTV footage, corroborated the sexual assault allegation.
Is it possible that a 4 year old child can have this kind of mind set? If not which most agree then why did he do this horrendous act?
 Children at this age have their prefrontal lobe which are not developed completely so there is no regulation to their impulses. Hence any little curiosity or stimulation make the replica the things they see or hear.
Second possibility is that since their brains are highly neuroplastic (means curious and want to try new things).The neurons in our mind tend to replicate what is present in the opposite others mind. Exposure to Visual stimulation such as pornography or intimacy in adults can lead to the child replicating the same.
Another possibility is present of an adult doing this act which is the matter of investigation.
What needs to be done as Parents?
Limiting To Exposure
Parents should be highly cautious in getting intimate in front of children. Adequate care must be taken to keep the children away from exposure to adult contents.
Early exploration
As children learn to walk and talk, they also begin to learn about their bodies. Open the door to sex education by teaching your child the proper names for his or her sex organs, perhaps during bath time.
If your child points to a body part, simply tell him or her what it is. This is also a good time to talk about which parts of the body are private.
When your child asks questions about his or her body — or yours — don't giggle, laugh or get embarrassed. Take the questions at face value, and offer direct, age-appropriate responses. If your child wants to know more, he or she will ask.
Curiosity about others
By age 3 or 4, children often realize that boys and girls have different genitals. As natural curiosity kicks in, you may find your child playing "doctor" or examining another child's sex organs.
Such exploration is far removed from adult sexual activity, and it's harmless when only young children are involved. As a family matter, however, you may want to set limits on such exploration.
Everyday moments are key
Sex education isn't a single tell-all discussion. Instead, take advantage of everyday opportunities to discuss sex.
If there's a pregnancy in the family, for example, tell your child that babies grow in a special place inside the mother. If your child wants more details on how the baby got there or how the baby will be born, provide those details.
Consider these examples:
How do babies get inside a mommy's tummy? You might say, "A mom and a dad make a baby by holding each other in a special way."
How are babies born? For some kids, it might be enough to say, "Doctors and nurses help babies who are ready to be born." If your child wants more details, you might say, "Usually a mom pushes the baby out of her vagina."
Why doesn't everyone have a penis? Try a simple explanation, such as, "Boys' bodies and girls' bodies are made differently."
Why do you have hair down there? Simplicity often works here, too. You might say, "Our bodies change as we get older." If your child wants more details, add, "Boys grow hair near their penises, and girls grow hair near their vaginas."
As your child matures and asks more-detailed questions, you can provide more-detailed responses. Answer specific questions using correct terminology.
Even if you're uncomfortable, forge ahead. Remember, you're setting the stage for open, honest discussions in the years to come.
Proper care must be taken to monitor the kids in schools so such events may be prevented in the future.
To label the child as a criminal at this tender age seems unfair but in the eyes of law a crime has been committed. The only way forwards is proper education and counselling of both parents and kids must be done to prevent such events in the future.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The “Silent Killer” of Obesity in Children

Shushant came home crying as Radha, his mom looked at him in disbelief. His shirt was torn and there were scratches on his face. This has been happening quite often since a last few months. He had been frequently fighting with the kids in the school. His friends used to call him “Appu” as he had gained a lot of weight in the last couple of years. This would irritate him and he would end up quarreling with them. Radha had consulted quite a few doctors but was unable to diagnose the exact cause. All his blood investigation were normal and the doctor had advised to improve his eating habits. There was no one so obese in the family. Even people in the family were taunting Radha to do something about his weight. Radha who was a house wife would continuously monitor his food but Shushant was just 12 years old .He would end up eating some junk food and this would lead to arguments with his mother. Radha understood the mental state of her son but was unable to help him. She was busy the entire day with her household work and then the school assignments. She had very little time to focus on Shushant. Radha knocked on the door but Sushant was not opening it. Radha got scared. She had an alternate key with which she opened the door .She saw Shushant weeping profusely under the table. Radha was upset at seeing her son’s state. She had tried her level best but still was unable to help him. She had complained to the class teacher but of no avail. Radha was upset on seeing her son suffering but what she didn’t realize that some of the issues were existing in him before the teasing from his friends.
Historically, a fat child meant a healthy child, one who was likely to survive the rigors of undernourishment and infection. But in today’s word it has become a major healthcare problem. Factors responsible for childhood obesity like genetic inheritance, disease like Diabetes, thyroid and dietary habits are usually highlighted in media. The role of childhood emotional and social needs are highly underplayed in the contribution to obesity. This article highlights the understanding of how psychological and emotional turmoil’s can contribute to this dreaded disorder.
Perhaps one of the biggest psychological factors of childhood obesity is the child’s home habits. If a child sees their parents turn to food for comfort then they are more likely to do the same. Also, the unavailability of food and the use of food as a reward for good behavior can become habits that stay with children into their adulthoods. This means that parents can not only influence whether a child becomes obese due to their genetics, but also due their habits.
Since kids tend to imitate their parent’s habits like eating food while watching TV or mobile or eating fast these tend to be the factors responsible for child hood obesity. Poor habits start early on. Many parents adding juice to baby bottles, which introduces babies to sweet tastes too early on and predisposes them to being overweight as a toddler and adolescent.
Our Neurons in brain mimic the emotional feelings of others unless they are being regulated by the prefrontal lobe in the brain. Since their prefrontal lobe (the regulatory center) in brain develops by 18 years hence the amygdala (Emotions firing center) is unchecked. They rewire and exhibit the same emotions and habits from the parents without actually the parent teaching them or realizing they should adapt habit. This is known as mirror imaging in neuroscience. Kids learn and mimic emotional and social behaviors from their parents. Say watching TV while eating food, eating a lot of food when upset. Kids pick up these habits without the knowledge of parents.

Low self-Esteem
Many people jump to an obvious, and often wrong, conclusion when they see a child who is obese.
“The parents are letting those kids eat anything they want. Those parents must be lazy.”
“A little self-discipline is all those kids need. If that kid would just quit eating so much.”
However, for many kids the cause of obesity may go much deeper. Childhood obesity can be a physical manifestation of a Low self-esteem and what that child needs is help handling their emotions. When the healing begins, a new healthy life can begin as well. First, adults need to understand the emotional causes of childhood obesity.
Low Self Esteem is another big factor that may influence a child to become obese. While it is suggested that weight gain is a common cause of low self-esteem, it can also be a cause of weight gain as a child is more likely to turn to food for comfort and social withdrawal can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Low self-esteem is something that many children suffer from, a child who feels badly about their looks may not make an effort to stay healthy and talking to them about their weight gain may only cause further self-esteem problems.
One stress in the house may be divorce. It literally turns a child’s world upside down. If the parents are constantly fighting for the child’s affections, that can be even more damaging. Many children turn to food as a form of rebellion as well as comfort when they can’t seem to get it anywhere else. Eating comfort foods releases those same feel good endorphins that exercise does, but the reality is that children will turn to food first because it’s easier.
Children are also affected by abuse. It can be sexual, physical, or verbal. Children are looking for acceptance, and when that comes in the form of hurt from those who are supposed to love them, it can confuse a child and destroy their self-worth. Food is often a substitute for love and a hiding place from the abuse they can’t stop.
Traumatic injury or accidents
Trauma suffered in childhood like natural disaster or vents like suicide or murders in the neighbourhood can also lead to childhood obesity. Children can become withdrawn and prone to unhealthy behaviors like stress-induced eating. In this situation, food can become a coping mechanism that leads to another unhealthy problem — obesity.
How to manage Psychological issues or Habits  in Obese kids
Children who experience psychological changes in their lives need an outlet for their pain as well as avenues for healing. One solution is therapy.
 When a family is going through divorce, a therapist can help all parties involved deal with their own feelings, as well as those of the other family members. Kids have a chance to vent and also to understand that the divorce has nothing to do with them.
In cases of abuse whether by a family member or an outsider, healing is crucial. A child needs guidance in how to process their feelings, as well as acceptance and understanding from their family. Eating disorders are commonplace in children of abuse. Therapy can give a child who finds solace in food a healthier way to communicate and deal with his or her pain.
When an injury or accident occurs in a child’s life they can be left to feel helpless. The ingestion of food is one thing they can control. Proper psychological help is crucial in this instance as this could become a lifelong preoccupation with controlling the world through means as futile as what they eat. Besides the control, the whole endorphin through eating comes into play once again, setting children up for a vicious cycle of eating for comfort, then eating to hide from their feelings about being obese.
Obese children are often hiding a deep, psychological pain. Learning to cope constructively with feelings not only produces emotionally well-adjusted children, but physically fit children, too. Look beyond the sugary treats if you love a child who is obese and help them find the pain behind the problem.
There is no such thing as a perfect family. We all do what we can for our children but the situation may be less than ideal. Changes in the home not only affect the parents, but also the kids.
Training the children to be aware of their emotions and deal with pressure from peers and maintain healthy relationship like Mindfulness based Cognitive interventions are some of the methods which increase the resilience and improve their impulsive behaviors. They learn how to cope up with the stressful events and are aware of their eating habits
How to eat food
Scientists discover those who eat too quickly are five-and-a-half times more likely than slow eaters to go on to develop a cluster of conditions including obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol

Bolting your food increases your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, research suggests.
People who eat very quickly do not give their bodies time to realize it is full – meaning they tend to eat more. Eating slowly, savoring every mouthful and taking time over a meal is better for overall health.
Faster eating speed was linked with more weight gain, higher blood glucose and an expanding waistline.
Researchers proved that chewing food properly does help us eat less at the dinner table.
A study has found that eating slowly and having smaller bites makes us feel less hungry an hour afterwards than if we wolf down food. People who ate slowly also drank more, which helped them feel fuller.
Eating without the distraction of mobile, computers or TV can help children lose weight and maintain the loss.
Eating mindfully, choosing and savoring food away from the distractions of computers and televisions, can help people lose weight, a study has shown. Kids can eat what they want, including their favorite high-calorie, fattening foods. But they must eat it mindfully, thinking about nothing but the enjoyment of eating their food – although not necessarily eating all of it.
           Radha spoke to Shushank about his problems and how she could help him. She decided to spend more time with him and help him lose weight. Her husband started taking him to the park regularly where he would exercise with Sushank. They started attending mindfulness sessions where the family learned how to mindfully eat their food. Sushank lost 6 kgs in the first month and he became healthier. Radha came to school and requested the principal to take necessary action. The principal met the boys who were teasing him and warned them .The couple spend more time with child and decreased their screen time. Sushank was lucky that his family was able to help him out but there are many obese kids who have this “silent killer” as the cause are not so lucky and need help.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Five attempted suicides in five days in a school! What next?

               We were waiting with our team in the lobby for a principal and teachers meet to discuss the importance of emotional quotient in today’s children’s life. Since it was a famous school of Mumbai with a lot of students, mild chaos was always expected. We saw an anxious crowd of mothers weeping outside the principal’s office. Not able to understand what was going on and the intention not to interfere in the school activities, we continued our scheduled meeting. As we came out after the meeting we saw a mother weeping profusely outside the office. We were simply overwhelmed on seeing her state .So, we went up to the mother and offered her a glass of water and told her to calm down .
        The lady narrated that she was  the parent of a ten standard student of the same school who was suspended by the school. Her son had attempted a suicide along with four of his friends in the school bathroom. They had used a sharpener blade and were caught by other friends on seeing the marks on their hand. It all started when a teacher humiliated a boy in the class for some trivial issue. The boy attempted a suicide and was suspended by the school authorities .
          After a couple of days the other  four kids followed the same. The mother couldn’t believe that her son could have attempted such a dreadful thing. She was devastated .Although the principal along with their team of psychologist were attempting to solve the issue. We were discussing emotional intelligence with them and here we find a group of children behaving so irrationally .Soon the father came  with a puzzled look on his face. We can never forget the helpless face of the mother and the father and the questions they were asking. “Where did I go wrong, she was asking us? What if he was successful in doing what he wanted? How to deal with him when I couldn’t understand why he did this”. They told us not to reveal the identity as that would spoil their child’s future. Hence I am not naming the school but only trying to highlight the problem. This might be happening in many schools which we do not know but dealing with the situation seems to be a better option for school rather than introducing regular interventions to prevent this catastrophe.
       This anxiety will be seen in most of the parents including me if we were in their place. Dealing with a child attempting suicide  and  helping them to overcome emotional problems in the wake of an emotional turbulence is a considerable task for parents, teachers, and mental health professionals.
When family members become anxious and frightened, a child's fear is magnified. When possible, adults need to deal with the situation in a way that will help children to manage their impulses. Adults need to support each other so that they can be emotionally available for their children. When they cope well under extremely difficult conditions, there is a good chance the children will make a positive adjustment. Support for these children is necessary to avoid long-term emotional harm. They need to know that their fears are normal.
Warning signs parents need to look out for depression in a child

  •    Kids having intense emotions and being unwilling to discuss them with their family.
  • Kids having reduced appetite and sleep disturbances.
  • Kids experiencing flashbacks or nightmares.
  •    Physical problems such as rashes, digestion problems, asthma or weight gain or loss.
  •    Frequent headaches.
  •      Fear of leaving home.
  •      Feeling guilty for not doing more.
  •       Withdrawing and losing interest in school and/or peer interactions.
  •       Avoiding school and academic work.
  •      Having a decreased energy level.
  •     Feeling indifferent, agitated, hopeless and/or depressed.
  •      Having suicidal thoughts.
  •      Rebelling against rules.
  •     Exhibiting risk taking behaviors

How can parents Intervene?
  •     Help them feel in control by having them make some decisions.
  •   Reassure them that they did all they could at the time.
  •    Foster participation in social activities and/or athletics with peers.
  •     Provide extra attention and comforting.
  •    Provide a routine but be flexible.
  •    Relax expectations for a time.
  •   Encourage participation in rebuilding efforts.
  •    Take time to prepare yourself emotionally, especially if it is affecting you personally.
  •    Let children know that it is normal to feel upset and fearful after being exposed to an incident like this.
  •  Provide an opportunity for children who want to talk about the event to express their thoughts and feelings.
  •  Respect the right of children to avoid any discussion.
  •   Avoid repeated dialogue concerning the event that may be disturbing to some children.
  •   Answer their questions with honesty, yet be brief using words that children easily understand.
  •  Speak in hopeful terms.
  • Understand that some of these children may be extremely angry, withdrawn or sad.
  •   Realize that it will take time for the students to adjust.
  •    If deemed appropriate share stories that demonstrate resiliency and that have resulted in a return to a “new normal.
  •  Offer opportunities for children to draw pictures of their choosing and perhaps pictures that represent their future hopes.

        Apart from counselors, the schools and educators can introduce interventions to develop the resilience and emotional quotient of children who are exposed to various unwanted situations so they are able to deal with them in a rational way. Preventing a situation should be the aim but reacting to a Disaster has become a norm. Schools and education need to change the narrative so we can have a more resilient and empathetic generation
        The alarming rise in attempted suicides makes it all the more necessary that parents reach out to the children and help them control the raging emotions and impulsive behavior which can harm them. One of the research proves that 70 percent of people committing suicide in the adult life have attempted suicide in their childhood. My vision and my dream  is that we can introduce socio emotional interventions into the school and college curriculum like Cognitive based Mindfulness and prevent these unfortunate incidents and have a more happy world.
Along with growth of Artificial intelligence we are able to grow the emotional intelligence for our future generation. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The untold story of the Murderer in Ryan International school

We have been reading a lot about the gruesome murder of seven-year-old Pradhyuman’s body was found in the washroom of a Ryan International School branch in Gurugram. The botched up investigations by the state police seems further increase the insecurities amongst the parents. Is my child safe in school? To add to the mystery the CBI has come up with another theory of a 16 year old student doing the gruesome act. The fact that a 16 year old child can actually commit a crime of this magnitude in a top international school is not palatable for quite a few parents. What must be the child’s psychological state and was it an act of impulsivity or a prolonged effect of some psychological trauma? What will be the effect on the juveniles mind if this turns out to be a botched up investigation like Aarushi’s murder case? My aim to write the article basically tries to dig deeper into the mind of the juvenile who has been arrested by CBI and finds out the reasons why the child acted in a horrific way. The contributing factors while lead to a criminal mindset and what parents can do about it?
Let’s try to first recap a few points about the case so far.
·       Pradyuman had been dropped outside his school in the morning just before start of school hours and in a matter of 15 minutes, he was found to be lying in a pool of blood, dead.
·       The police arrested a bus conductor as the murder accused even before the passage of a whole day.
·       The Gurugram Police Commissioner boasted that the case will be cracked in 1-2 days.
·       The arrested bus conductor first confessed to committing the murder then retracted the statement, saying the police coerced it out of him.
·       The investigation was handed over to the CBI which after several weeks detained a school student as accused.
·       The CBI has asked for the 16-year-old boy's custody in order to find out if any other people were involved in the crime, and to also unearth the sequence of events leading to Pradyuman Thakur's death, and to "unearth the conspiracy, if any".
·       The CBI has asserted that after inspecting the crime scene, the CCTV footage, movement of students near the crime scene and questioning people in the school, it has identified and apprehended the accused.
·       The CBI's findings in the case came as an embarassement to the state police as the CBI said that a Class XI student who allegedly wanted a parent-teacher meeting and examinations to be postponed had been apprehended in connection with the killing of seven-year-old Pradyuman in Gurugram's Ryan International School.
·       As it has often been seen, wide media coverage and public outcry put investigating agencies under extra pressure.
·       In many cases, failure in proper preliminary investigation, or incomplete/delayed collection of forensic evidence lead to botched up investigations that ultimately make it more difficult for the victim to get justice.
If the crime was committed by the 16 year old boy
The motive of the murder was postponing the parent teachers meeting and examination. It may sound very trivial to most of us but it would be really important to know what led the juvenile of 16 years to actually do the gruesome act. So let’s assume that the juvenile committed the crime. So let’s try to understand his mind
1.     What were the changes in the brain that must have taken place? We all know that “amygdala” a part of the brain which deals with firing emotions develops by the age of 2 and the prefrontal (neobrain) develops by the age of 20 years and for some it may be later. This we label it as maturity. The prefrontal lobe works as a regulator to control emotions like anger, sadness or impulses. In short, kids are without any regulation till the lobe develops completely. Here the role of parents and educator comes into play. Most of the schools do not have curriculum or take active interventions in India into helping the child deal with these raging emotions. So the primary responsibility of helping the child with socioemotional problems lies on the shoulders of the parents. If both parents are working the child is left at the mercy of the caretakers. This creates this dysregulation.A study done in United States where MRI of criminals were done and it was found that most of them had a very thin layer of prefrontal lobe with an enlarged hypertrophied amygdala. Hence when provoke they were unable to regulate their impulsive behavior. Hence, lack of regulation in kid lead to such catastrophe.
2.     The motive was the postponement of examinations. If it hold true, then the children today are highly stressed by the expectations of parents as well as educators to excel in their academics. A study by me where we measured the blood cortisol of school going kids on a normal  day without any examination. We were shocked to see that the average levels of cortisol (207) were actually on the higher side close to the upper limit (210).You can imagine what must be the state of the child when they appear for their examinations. Again lack of regulation will make the child take these drastic steps as it is evident by shootouts in the United States.
3.     The role of gaming and gadgets have further deregulated the children.The ease of availability and addiction of technology  in today’s kids is for everyone to see. At a very tender the age the child learns to shoot someone in a game by a click on the mobile. Violence in cartoons like Chota Bheem are seen by kids of the 6 and 7 years. Since the prefrontal lobe is not developed, the difference between good and bad is not understood by them. Hence we are seeing a rise in violence and aggressiveness among kids. Surprisingly parents themselves want them to be addicted to television initially but later on regret. Social media like Facebook and whatsapp have contributed to isolating a child and interfering in the basic skills of communication. Games like Blue whale have taken undue significance due to poor development of socioemotional skills in the learning phase of teenagers. Typing an emoji saves the body a lot of trouble of making facial expressions but eventually creates plutonic and shallow relationships. You type a wrong emoji and the meaning changes.
4.     Lack of effective programs and interventions in schools focusing on socioemotional behavior and helping children to deal with stress.
5.     Time spend by parents with students has markedly reduced. With the hectic schedules and competitions in today’s world, parents are not giving enough quality time to their children.They themselves are too much involved their own world, the child misses the guidance and compassion of the parents. With a deregulated and agitated system the child is bound to react impulsively. I am not defending the juvenile who committed the crime but simply believe that he is not solely responsible.
What if the Juvenile has not committed the crime?
The marks on the child’s mind where the whole country is gunning for his life are going to be damaging and permanent. The amygdala which is deregulated will fire and lead to the added frustration and anger. This will have an extremely negative impact on his mind which may lead  him to become a hard core criminal or commit suicide depending on the value system. All we can pray that the CBI at least in this case has not goofed up in naming him as the murderer. It may end up destroying the future of a young life.
Way forward
Parents and educators need to take combined responsibility in developing the socioemotional behavior of the children.Teaching them to deal with their impulsiveness.
Some of the tips which may be useful for parents
Talk to your children .Parents need to speak to their children without judging them and advising them. Make them your friend and listen to their problems controlling the urge to advise them if not necessary.
Limiting gadget times. Parents need to fix the gadget times for both themselves and their children. By forcing them to switch of the gadget and parents still using them might not work. Children learn from their parent’s behavior and mimic them.
Giving positive feedback: One of the most depressing thing for a child is to get a negative comment from the parents. Parents are their world especially for young kids. Every negative comment creates disinterest in their studies or activities and widens the gap of understanding between them.
Giving them space. Every child is special and each one has a unique quality and skill. By judging and analyzing them solely on their marks and ignoring their other talents, we destroy their self-confidence and make them more aggressive. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses is done by all parents but very few have the heart to ignore their weakness and help them work on their strengths. There would be only doctors and engineers in the world and no painters or sportsman if academics was the yardstick to success.
For educator and school authorities: Effort should be made by introducing programs to develop the socioemotional behavior of the kids .Active interventions at the right age will prevent the murder of kids like Pradyuman and spoil the future of teenager who murdered him . There are many Pradyumans and teenager who are roaming around with an unregulated mind who need active intervention. My vision is that socioemotional interventions like mindfulness based cognitive therapy will be made compulsory in school curriculum which seems to the need of the hour and save many Pradyumans and the teenage boy.

5th January 2050: A Visit to An AI (Artificial Intelligent) Doctor With Mitron

Rex had just come back from a vacation to earth’s moon a couple of days back. He had already been intimated by his personal assistant “ ...