Problems' Adolescents Endure in Nepal

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Adolescence 10 to 19 olds is a time for developing independence and is the phase of transition from dependence to independence. This time, it paves way for physical, mental, psychological and emotional changes. 

Typically, adolescents exercise their independence by questioning their parents' rules, which at times leads to rule breaking. Adolescents try to establish their identity by trying to act differently, this can actually add to their dilemma. As adolescents begin to see everything in a new light, parents can observe certain behavioral changes in their child.

It is well understood that adolescents are not homogeneous. Therefore, the needs of the adolescents vary on the basis of their gender, stage of development, life style, social circumstances and the economic conditions in which they get born, grow and live. Likewise, the habits and experiences of the rural as well as urban adolescents differ.

However, what parents do not realize is that like them, the children are also passing through a difficult stage. They are trying to deal with physical emotional and moral changes occurring and have started observing the world in a completely different way.

The sternness and occurrence of transgressions are guides in such conditions. For example, drinking habitually, fighting often, frequent skiving, and theft are much more significant than insulated episodes of the same activities. Other cautioning signs include deterioration of performance at school and running away from home. Of particular concern are adolescents who cause serious injury or use a weapon in a fight.

Such kinds of act executed by children during adolescence considerably contribute to an increase in frequency and severity of violent interactions. Successively, these can act as a principal cause restating physical and mental harm at school (or home ore often the threat of violence) and outside of school being highly publicized. Lots of factors contribute to an increased risk of violence for adolescents, including; developmental issues, gang membership, access to firearms, substance use and poverty.

Nepali Adolescents and Youth Survey carried out by the Population Division of the Nepal Government, Ministry of Health and Education in 2010/11 cites that nearly one in every five adolescents (18%) reported of having used liquor, followed by use of cigarettes/tobacco (13%), and major drugs (6%).

The period of adolescence is that of curiosity and exploration and to do that within the norms and values of the society creates conflicts in the minds of young people.

It is a sketchy situation that communication gap between parents and adolescents’ stretches to depression in many cases. The conflict between what the family and society expects and the adolescent’s influence invites mental and emotional problems. The diagnosis of mental problems especially catering to adolescents should be facilitated.

It is the duty of parents, guardians and school management to observe any of these problems in their adolescents’ .In that way; concerned parents can take him/her to the psychosocial counselor/psychiatrist or mental health practitioner or a helping organization as soon as possible. A good psychosocial counselor/mental health practitioner or psychologist will try to find the root cause of the problem and help the child to overcome this behavioral problem. Apart from the treatment given by the specialist, it is crucial that parents exhibit patience and give all love and support to the child.

According to census 2011, Nepal’s total population was 26,494,504, where 13,645,463 were females (51.5 per cent), 12,849,041 males (48.5 per cent) and adolescents’ constituted 22 per cent of the total population The increasing adolescent population signifies some special characteristics in their involvement in development but then again they are not free from working for livelihood in Nepal. They need to take care of their parents and juniors by generating income through involvement in economic activities due to poverty families in rural areas expect economic support from youngsters’. This is why many young people opt for foreign labor migration.

A recent rapid assessment conducted by Plan International, one of the oldest children’s development organizations in the world, andn  World Education  estimates that over 165,000 working children are domestic laborers in Nepal. Earlier, NDHS 2006 had found that 92% of adolescent girls aged 15-19 and 60 percent of adolescent boys of same age group were engaged in agriculture sector and 23% of all laborers were of age 10-14 years. Nevertheless, information data on adolescents’ employment is virtually absent. There is no reliable study regarding the employment status of adolescents, their skills and desire. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has also observed insufficient attention being paid to the concerns of the adolescents on formulation of specific policies and strategies.

A large number of adolescents and youths are found to be either dropping out of schools and colleges or have never been regular. A majority of girls and children from disadvantaged families remain deprived of educational opportunities and health and sanitation facilities. Moreover, important aspects of adolescents’ life relating to reproductive health, lifestyle, sexual needs and effects are not properly considered.

Also, according to the Flash I report (2012-13) published by Department of Education (DoE), there are 34,782 schools across the country where 7.6 million students are studying.
Out of the total enrollment of students, 50.5 per cent were girls. Hence, one of the main reasons the dropout rate is high is because of early marriage which eventually leads to unsafe pregnancy than abortion and sometimes uterine prolapsed as well. Succeeding reason can be sanitation facilities as drop out data of girls’ students shown above.

Meaningful participation of adolescents in decision-making is almost nil or negligible. Traditional and cultural belief systems have restricted the adolescents from participating in family and social agendas at the decision-making levels. Adolescents are brought up to fear elders, seniors’ upper caste people rather than have a sense of belonging. This practice has eroded their self-esteem and respect .Moreover, gender discrimination among the adolescents is rampant. Harmful and discriminating social norms like isolating girls during menstruation (Chhoupadi), dowry, and polygamy are still common especially in Terai and rural remote areas of Nepal.

In response, Nepal government has ratified and endorsed a number of international policy instruments in line to recognize the rights, responsibilities and improve the behavior of the adolescents to bring them into mainstream of development. Among the policy instruments, the Convention on the Right of Child 1989, Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women 1979, International Conference on Population and Development 1994, Form World Conference on Women (Beijing Plate form for Action 1995), ILO Worst Forms of Labor Convention 1999 are in the front line to ensure fundamental rights of the adolescents in the globe. In Nepal, some initiatives have been taken. Periodic plans are made. To deal the adolescents’ concerns, separate ministries have been established. There are numerous organizations both at the government and non-government level working in the interest of the adolescents.

Persistently, Scaling up services is not the only solution to magnify access to youth-friendly services. Empowering service providers, disseminating appropriate information, and developing an appropriate environment are obligation of government and all connected stakeholders. Thus, each young person feels safe and knows that services are confidential ensuring access to youth-friendly services.

Position: Social and Develpment Worker


Great article

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