According to the UNICEF (United Nations International children’s Educational Fund ) an orphan is a child under 18 years of age who has lost one or both parents by any cause of death. Statistics show that there were nearly 4000 million orphans in the world in 2015, These unfortunate children are housed in orphanages where these orphans are expected to be provided with their basic needs, care and protection. However, in many instances, these expectations prove to be unmet and in fact, these safe havens themselves turn out to be places of despair or even horror. In South East Asian countries, in particular, orphanages have created grave problems to the child’s emotion and behavior. In Sri Lanka, there are about 21000 orphans according to the latest statistics and the number of orphanages too have increased. These are run either by the government or non-governmental organizations(NGO). It’s the responsibility of the state as well as the society to assure these unfortunate children of security, care and guidance. Unless timely action is taken, this situation may lead to serious problems in the society. Where these unfortunate children often enter as insecure, insensitive, and even undesirable individuals.
The reasons for this increase are many and varied. For instance, the 30-years war and the Tsunami have left behind thousands of children without parents. In addition to these tragic events many are abandoned children by irresponsible or even helpless young parents who find it difficult to tend to their needs, or by those who had ventured into the cities and towns from their villagers in search of jobs. Globalization has led to the emergence of numerous industries, like for instance, Katunayake zone, Biyagama zone and other similar industries and factories which provide jobs for these young people. These young people away from home may be compelled to live in places and situations which may get them into unfortunate situations resulting in unwanted pregnancies. The result may be unwanted offspring who may finally end up in orphanages.
In the orphanages of the Asian regions, there have been many reports of cruelty, child abuse, neglect and even incidents of criminal activities. Children need affection, security, assurance and guidance specially in their childhood. While some of these institutions strive to provide all these, many tend to overlook these requirements. In recent years, there have been many reports of incidents of cruelty towards these children. Very often kids are given very hard punishment for their normal childhood mischievous behavior which would have been dealt with firm admonition by one’s own parents. Punishment meted out at the orphanages may include physical tortures like beatings, forced actions that are painful (kneeling for long hours) exposure to harsh weather (standing for long hours in the scorching sun) and starvation. Another cruel measure taken is emotional or mental tortures like confinement to dark and closed-up rooms with the threat of danger from supernatural beings (like monsters, ghosts). These inhuman treatments would surly have serious phycological effects on children. This would invariably turn these children into cruel individuals with behavioral and emotional problems.
The basic requirements for a physical and mental developed child who grows into a balanced, confident and individual are parental love and affection, care and guidance. Parental love is very difficult to define in words. The philosopher Roger Scruton (2013) says that in its highest form, parental love “…comes as a gift, freely bestowed on another person…” unfortunately orphans miss the love which could be given only by their own parents. Many of these children much emotional damage. They may be depressed and anxious. They might ask from where the difficulties came from. The answer is that damage comes almost always from early childhood. They need very responsible parents who looked after them with sensitivity and kindness. With out this kind of responsible love, children are often wounded for life of child psychology. One of the world leading experts Edward Tronick, Director of child development unit, Harvard university, together with his team is responsible one for the great experiments in history of psychology known as ‘Still face’ experiment. He said that young babies are extremely responsive to the emotional and the social interaction that they get from their parents. Parents can show their love through touch and a hug and the children feel loved. There is not any substitute for it. “No memory is as powerful as that of a loved childhood.” (Family Dynamics,2013) that means parents love should be the part of the child’s life. Other important are parental care and guidance.
Opponent can say, there are cases where children brought up by their own parents lack affection and care entitled to them from their parents. The reason may be that parents do not have sufficient time to spend with their children. Their financial situation may require both to work. Further, parents lead very busy and stressful lives themselves. As a result, they have neither time nor the energy to give to their children. With the emergence of modern technology, people tend to spend dinner time on their phone. Though, they parents have the good intention of providing for their child’s future, they simply do not realize that what the child needs most is their parental love and affection. They do not realize how it affect their child’s behavior and emotion. Many parents are compelled to leave their children in the care of maids or care-takers. As a result, children may be faced with neglect lack of affection, and even danger. However, these cases are fewer compared to the case of neglect at many orphanages. For instance, in SOS Children’s village orphanage in Pakistan, there were orphans who miss parental love. Even with adequate facilities, individuals still miss parental love. Austrian psychoanalyst and physician Rene Spitz proposed children in orphanages, who missed important parental relationships suffered from lack of love to a great extent. (Hughes, 2013). Another example in the study carried out by Jawaid, a child psychologist refers to the “potential hidden consequences” of a child’s childhood experiences in an orphanage. He had conducted a study which separated from his / her parents. He claims that such traumatic experiences cause “subtle biological alterations”. He suggests that such charges many even have their repercussion on their own children as well. (Curry, 2019)
Secondly, the General environment in an orphanage would inevitably have its impact on its inmates. Izidor Ruckel was one of thousands of children discovered living in terrible conditions in a Romanian orphanage. The orphans are under strict schedule. Where they have to do each an everything according to a time schedule. They are compelled to do their duties even if they suffered minor ailments such as aches and pains, which prevent them from meeting their time schedules. The authorities at the orphanage may not be able to ident such genuine individual problems, and give concessions. The Many of orphans suffered mentally, physically and emotionally because of it. even individuals had physical pain they might no do the work according the time schedule. In my personal experience, our parents are adopting a little boy, whose mother is not in a position to bring him up. When my mother gives some work to do him, sometime he does it and sometimes does not. So we understand his situation and gave him new activities which he enjoys doing. If he is compelled to carry on with the earlier activity, he would probably hate such activities for life. However, Orphanages do not make such considerations.
Some may argue that regimental life style early in life would prepare a person to be a systematic and focused and even ambitious individual. Also, some might say they are good with time management, giving priority to their own work. However, this is not the case in the majority of the orphanage unlike in a home where the parents would know their own child’s temperament and emotional levels and act accordingly, in an orphanage this may not be possible due to the numbers.
Thirdly, the care givers in an orphanage plays a pivotal role in the upbringing of the children. Very often they lack of parental skills and basic consideration required for this role. The damagers that with some orphanages are a matter of concern. There have been incidence of verbal, psychical and sexual abuse in many of these orphans. Care givers need psychological knowledge to handle the individuals. They have to show affection. Unfortunately, many orphanages are unable to provide skilled works. For instance, if the child does something wrong they Punish him/her meted out may include physical torture like beatings, forced actions that are painful (kneeling for long hours) exposure to harsh weather (standing for long hours in the scorching sun) and starvation. Another cruel measure taken is emotional or mental tortures like confinement to dark and closed-up room with the threat of danger from supernatural beings (like monsters, ghosts). These inhuman treatment would surly have their adverse effects on children. This would directly affect a child emotionally and behaviorally. They following is an example of such a situation. A boy who was descales was betted severely by a belt-wielding care taker that care taker hit him sprawling to the floor. He, then beat his victim with the metal hook of his belt. Till the boy started bleeding form his head. When he saw the blood, the abuser quickly drag the boy to the Barth room and poured the water on to the bleeding head, holding the boys hand to the wound to stop the bleeding. The explanation given was that he had to punished the boy because he was troublesome (General new,2019).
Clearly this criminal offence should have sent him to Jail. However, while no action would have been taken, the victim would no doubt bear the sears not only physical but also psychological a very long time. This incidence shows the importance of employing highly skilled personnel with the required temperament since they are the once who shape the personality of the young once. Once some may argue that such a situation however cruel and inhumen could on the other hand developed an in a strength and independence in a child and make him emotionally stronger. However, this quality may not be an ingredient for a rounded and balanced personality who could maintain healthy relationships, based on trust an affection.
The fourth and another more serious form of abuse is sexual abuse. We hear of many cases of incidents of child sexual abuse in these orphanages. This could be in the form of homosexual abuse or heterosexual abuse. The offenders of this crimes are usually the people in authority in these homes like care givers, teachers and occasionally even priests. There are also reports of children being sent out for sexual favors out side the orphanage by these unscrupulous individuals. These traumatic experience, no doubt, leave long lasting or life long effects on the victims who themselves may turn out to be sexual offenders themselves. Moreover, these child victims may also in their frustration and despair, take to prostitution in their later years. In the case of homosexual abuse, the victims may turn out to be homosexuals in their later years. All this could pose danger to the institutes of marriage and pro creation, leading to crisis in the society.
Children who have suffered abuse over a long period of time show slower physical and mental growth; for instance, they may become stunted and or low in their mental ability. Also it is a known fact that mothers milk boosts the baby’s immunity against diseases. Further, there is no doubt that parental love for their own child cannot be matched with the care given by care-givers at the orphanages. Sarah Philips (1998) along-time orphanage volunteer has this to say “It took me a while to realize when I went to the baby houses that they only show you all the healthy ones. Then there are the rooms where the others are just lying there. They are all dying, lying on their backs, staring at the ceiling, generally fed on their backs. I have seen them putting the bottle of boiling hot food into children’s mouths. It must be burning, but they are too hungry and just swallow it.” This shows that, a relationship between a child and his or her mother or father will be very personal where there is true understanding and tolerance. Moreover, the best place that provides guidance and protection would be home. I can presente my personal experience to bring out this point. When my brother was a toddler, my mom noticed that there was a slight squint in his left eye. This was immediately taken care of with consultation with the family doctor who referred my brother to a specialist and the problem was rectified at the beginning itself. This is because only a mother or father would be able to notice even the smallest of health issues in his or her child. Thus, timely intervention saved my brother from visual issues in his adulthood. A problem like this may have been overlooked in a less personal environment like an orphanage. The reason for this situation could be the lack of resource personnel in these homes or a total lack of consideration on the part of the workers, or even mere cruelty on the part of the workers Children who are deprived of their basic requirements, in other words, neglected, tend to grow up as insensitive, insecure irresponsible adults who cannot give affection to others.
Child abuse is another serious social problem in the present society. When it comes to child abuse, we talk about physical and mental abuse which had already been discoursed in the previous paragraph. However another more serious form of abuse is sexual abuse. We hear of many cases of incidents of child sexual abuse in these orphanages. This could be in the form of homosexual abuse or heterosexual abuse. The offenders of this crimes are usually the people in authority in these homes like care givers, teachers and occasionally even priests. There are also reports of children being sent out for sexual favors out side the orphanage by these unscrupulous individuals. These traumatic experience, no doubt, leave long lasting or life long effects on the victims who themselves may turn out to be sexual offenders themselves. Moreover, these child victims may also in their frustration and despair, take to prostitution in their later years. In the case of homosexual abuse, the victims may turn out to be homosexuals in their later years. All this could pose danger to the institutes of marriage and pro creation, leading to crisis in the society.
The following news item from the Sunday times, (2018). The writer Shaadya Ismail, reports the following incidence in a which had place in an orphanage in Kurunagala. An orphanage is a place potential to children who lack security but institution in kurunagala has lured out to be a horror house. Police investigation a complaint that 18 boys all in their early or mid-teens had been sexually abused by workers who use to visit the orphanage by works who use to visit the orphanage.
Finally, many of our orphanages tend to be ideal breeding grounds for criminal activities. When food or other items and facilities are inadequate as is the case in most of our orphanages, children may be forced to help themselves to whatever they could lay their hands on. This may be to fulfill their very basic requirements like even food. When I was in grade 3, there was a student from a near-by orphanage who attended my class. She used to occasionally steal food and other stationary items from her classmates. When, oneday, she was caught in the act of slealing food, she was admonished by the teacher. Consequently, not only was she ostracized by her classmates, but she was also suspected when anything went missing in class. Being labeled a “thief” even when she was not guilty of a theft would surely make her a thief for life. In this case, since she had already gained a reputation as a thief, she has nothing to lose if she continued to steal. Thus, such environments of depravity prove to be ideal breading ground for crime. In some other cases the authorities who manage these orphanages may comprise unscrupulous individuals who may make use of these innocent children involved in prostitution or even drogue related crimes. Exposure to such an environment would surely create a criminal environment in these orphanages, breeding more criminals among these children.
To concludes it is evident that certain conditions should be met to run a safe and healthy orphanage. They are primarily, love and affection, a healthy and relaxed environment, professionally skilled care givers, personal security and guidance adequate basic facilities. These unfortunate children need all these factors in the right proportions in order to grow up into healthy, happy and balanced individuals, who are strong enough to meet the many challenges they need to meet in life. It is very important that the state allocates the necessary facilities as well as savvies the supervision to ensure the smooth running of these intuitions.