BENGALURU:Forty-eight to 52 per cent of children in India are stunted and are very likely to get mental health and developmental problems, said Dr David Pearson, an expert in child and adolescent mental health from the UK. “We need to know what these problems are if we are to design programmes to help children out of this situation,” he said.
“Stunting lowers cognitive ability, leads to relationship problems, and affects physical and psychological maturity. Child abuse along with stunting causes worse impairments. We are here to help,” said Pearson.
Pearson spoke to Express on the first day of ‘Change the Script 2015’, a two-day conference hosted by NGO Dream A Dream. The conference aims to delve into understanding the challenges faced by young people, especially from vulnerable backgrounds. Participants in the conference are from all walks of life - teachers, educators, NGO leaders, policy makers, researchers, academicians, school leaders, community workers, youth workers, trainers, facilitators and parents.
Vishal Talreja, co-founder and CEO of Dream a Dream, said, “We hold teachers’ development programmes to help teachers with identifying problems in the young.”
Pearson works with the organisation to hold training programmes for mentors who can work with children with developmental problems and help them get back on track.
He said, “If I go to a shelter for children, it is likely that a child of four to five years of age will come and hold my hand. If I go to a friend’s or relative’s and they have a kid, the kid would experience a certain amount of anxiety on seeing a stranger and not hold my hand straightaway.”
“The former child’s behaviour is not correct as he does not have any anxiety on seeing strangers. He is likely to hold any stranger’s hand in any place,” he said.
Such children need to be taught life skills by mentors, who are trained by their organisation, he said. “They are trained to talk to the children and to listen to them. We have had 2,000 mentors for 2,000 children till now,” he said.