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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 87-90  

A cross-sectional study of the sociodemographic profile of juveniles under institutional care in the city of Mumbai


Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Seth G S Medical College and KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, India

Date of Web Publication30-Jul-2011

Correspondence Address:
Ravindra S Kembhavi
Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Seth G S Medical College, Parel, Mumbai - 400 012
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2230-8229.83376

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   Abstract 

Objectives: To study the sociodemographic profiles of children under institutional care, identify the characteristic features of the families prone to have destitute children, and suggest measures for prevention of destitution of children in the community. Material and Methods: A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study was conducted in a population of 507 boys and girls from 6 to 18 years admitted to four different institutes for care and support. A sample of 170 children was selected using systematic random sampling technique. A survey was done to study the health status of the children. Data was analyzed using SPSS software. Frequency and proportion were calculated and chi square test was used. P value of >0.05 was considered significant. Results: 65.9% of children were in the 6 to 12 age group. 63.5% were Hindu by religion. The majority i.e., 80.9% of the boys and 80% of the girls were urban in origin, 82.4% of the juveniles were from nuclear families, 40.0% of boys and 62.3% of the girl juveniles were from lower socioeconomic status. 75% of boys and 25% of the girls had been child laborers just before institutionalization. Only 12.7% of juveniles were from large families, the rest, the majority (87.3%) were from medium to small sized families. Conclusions: Nuclear families of medium to small size which belong to the lower socioeconomic status and of urban origin were found to be unable to provide care and support to their children putting them at the risk of becoming destitute.

Keywords: Children under institutional care, destitute child


How to cite this article:
Pasi AR, Shinde RR, Kembhavi RS, Kadam DD. A cross-sectional study of the sociodemographic profile of juveniles under institutional care in the city of Mumbai. J Fam Community Med 2011;18:87-90

How to cite this URL:
Pasi AR, Shinde RR, Kembhavi RS, Kadam DD. A cross-sectional study of the sociodemographic profile of juveniles under institutional care in the city of Mumbai. J Fam Community Med [serial online] 2011 [cited 2019 Jun 19];18:87-90. Available from: http://www.jfcmonline.com/text.asp?2011/18/2/87/83376


   Introduction Top

"Investment in child development is an investment in the future of the nation." [1] In view of the constitutional provisions and the United Nations declaration of the rights of the child, the Government of India adopted a national policy for children on August 22, 1974. The policy recognizes children as the "Nation's supremely important asset" and states that it shall be the responsibility of the state governments to provide adequate services to children before and after birth and through the period of growth, to ensure their full physical, mental, and social development.

To tackle the problem of social maladjustment among children, central assistance was provided to States/Union territories to set up observation homes, children's homes, and upgrade existing institutions. In 1980, Pathak and Saxena of the International Institute of Population Sciences estimated that there were 38.06 million orphans between the ages of 0-16 years. [2] In view of the society's and state's responsibility to ensure the prevention, rehabilitation, and social integration of the underprivileged children, a strategic surveillance is needed to identify these children, the feeder areas and section of the society whose children are at risk of being institutionalized. The results of such a survey might be useful in exploring the underlying causes of the institutionalization and help to plan preventive and rehabilitative services at the community level.


   Materials and Methods Top


Sample size

During the study period, a total of 507 children were admitted to four different institutes for care and support. Out of these 507 children admitted, 170 were selected using the systematic random sampling technique. Data analysis was done with statistical software SPSS version 12.

Study area

The present study was conducted in selected institutions that provide shelter, care, and protection for underprivileged children, according to the statutory provisions of the "Children Act 1960," in the city of Mumbai. These institutions are run by the Social Welfare Department of the Government of Maharashtra, directly or with financial assistance to voluntary organizations.

Study population

The study population consisted of boys and girls between 6 and 18 years under institutional care according to the statutory provisions of the "Children Act 1960."

Study period

The study was done from August 2003 to July 2004.

Study design

This was an observational cross-sectional study. A questionnaire-based survey was done to study the health status of the children.

Statistical tools

Proportion and chi-square were used.


   Results Top


Out of a total of 170 children, 65.9% and 34.1% were from the age group of 6-12 years and >12 years, respectively. The majority (75.3%) of the children were institutionalized between the ages of 6-12 years; only 10.0% and 14.7% were institutionalized when they were < 6 years and >12 years, respectively. Distribution by religion shows that 63.5% of the children were Hindu and 34.1% were Muslim. Children of urban origin were 80.5% while 19.5% were from the rural areas indicating an urban predominance of the children under institutional care. Gender distribution of the juveniles in relation to urban--rural origin was found to be statistically highly insignificant.

Out of a total of 170 children, 82.4% were from nuclear families, and 17.6% were from joint and joint-extended families. It was observed that 40.0% of the boys and 62.3% of the girls were from lower socioeeconomic status. Gender distribution of the children in relation to their socioeconomic status was found to be highly significant statistically.

It was observed that 54.0% of institutionalized children belonged to medium-sized (4-7) families, whereas 33.3% to small families and 12.7% to large families. Gender distribution of the juveniles in relation to their family size was found to be statistically highly significant.

It was observed that 75% of child laborers were boys and 25% were girls. Proportionately, 75.9% of the girls and 24.1% of the boys had been engaged in other activities. Proportionately, more boys had been engaged in physical labor while more girls had been involved in other activities.


   Discussion Top


Gokhale et al. in 1973 had reported that 48% of the juveniles were institutionalized before the age of 12 years, whereas 40% were put in institutions between the age of 13 and 16 years. [3] In the present study [Table 1], the majority (75.3%) of the juveniles were put in care between the ages of 6 and 12 years. Higher proportions of the children were admitted at or before the age of 12 years as a result of destitution caused by death, divorce, or separation of parents, distressing family circumstances, inability of the parents to support the children on account of economic or health problems, risk of delinquent behavior, and exploitation by antisocial elements in the society.
Table 1: Sociodemographic characteristics of the juveniles under institutional care

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The children in the above age group are at the risk of developing deviant behavior, when exposed to adverse external influences. They are therefore in need of adequate care and protection in order to develop into well-adjusted adults.

Out of a total of 170 children, 80.5% were of urban origin indicating predominance of urban youths in the institutions. Earlier, Sumitra Pathak had reported that 46% of the delinquents came from the slums and 30% from areas with poor housing and a concentration of people belonging to the poor socioeconomic class. [4]

The findings of the present study are similar to those of Sumitra Pathak. The reasons for urban admissions were broken homes, involvement in predelinquent and delinquent behavior, and exploitation by antisocial elements. The reasons for rural admissions were running away from home by juveniles as a result of ill-treatment and abuse at home, the line of urban life, and the search for employment, or a means of making easy money.

Distribution by religion showed that 63.5% of the children were Hindus and 34.1% were Muslims. The proportion of Hindu and Muslim children in the age group 6-18 years in the general community was 82% and 12%, respectively. [5] The distribution was in proportion to the percentage of the people belonging to the respective religions in the general community. Out of the total 170 children, 7% had been child laborers just before brought into care, which was estimated as 18% in Delhi in 1994. [6]

Thirty-seven percent of the children were going to school, while the majority, i.e., 55.4% of the children, neither worked as laborers nor went to school, took care of younger siblings, and did other household activities. The relation between child labor and gender distribution of juveniles was statistically highly significant. Gokhale et al. reported that 67% of the children had attended school before being institutionalized, but a very large proportion had dropped out of school. [3]

Fifty-four percent of the children in the institutions came from medium-sized (4-7) families, whereas 33.3% came from small families and 12.7% to large families. Boys were mostly from small families (55.6%) while the girls were from medium-sized families (61.4%). Gender distribution of the children in relation to their family size was statistically highly significant. Gokhale et al. reported that 62% of the juveniles belonged to medium-sized families consisting of five or more members. [7]

These studies have shown that an increase in the family size puts an additional financial burden and other responsibilities on the parents leading inevitably to poverty, inability to supply the basic needs of the children, negligence, and substandard family life. The children from such families are at the risk of facing juvenile problems. If such children are not taken care of in the family, they would need support and assistance of welfare agencies.

The traditional strong bonds of the joint family system, which influenced the behavior and culture of the community and provided care and support to the needy and handicapped, are fast disappearing. The nuclear families, especially in the lower laboring classes, have to devote a majority of their time and energy in search of work in order to provide basic meals for the family. Thus, there is little time to supervise their children and see to their well-being. Some children from these families get too much freedom and consequently indulge in deviant behavior. Lack of guidance and supervision for children compels the parents to send their children to child care institutions for care and protection. [8],[9] Out of the total 170 children, 82.4% were from nuclear families, and only 17.6% from joint and joint-extended families.

According to Kuppuswamy's classification, 64.4% of the children were from the lower socioeconomic status. Gender distribution of the juveniles in relation to their socioeconomic status was found to be statistically highly significant. In 1968, Buck reported that the majority of the juveniles admitted to the remand home came from lower socioeconomic status. Similarly, other studies also observed that poverty and the parents' inability to manage financially were the main causes of institutionalization of the juveniles. [10],[11],[12]

The lower socioeconomic status associated with poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, unemployment, lack of basic amenities, and lack of access to basic services such as education and others leads to juvenile problems. Further destitution and deviant behavior render the children more vulnerable to exploitation and victimization by antisocial elements within the society. Thus, children from lower socioeconomic status need extra family support in their education and development to become productive members of their families and the society.


   Conclusions Top


Medium to small nuclear families of urban origin belonging to lower socioeconomic status were found to be unable to provide care and support for their children, which puts them at risk of becoming destitute.


   Recommendations Top


Protection of family-based services like family assistance and family sponsorship schemes are necessary to give support to the socioeconomically deprived families in the upbringing of their children. Counseling services should be provided for families and parents to help them during crises and ensure the integrity of the family. Juvenile guidance centers should be established for the prevention and control of delinquency at community level.

 
   References Top

1.Editorial: A year for the child. Swasth Hind 1979;23:1.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Pathak B, Saxena A. Revised estimates of orphan and probability of orphanhood; 1980.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.Gokhale SD, Billimoria HM, Reuben HE. Impact of Institutions on Children. A Research Project on Rehabilitation of Children other than Delinquent in Bombay. Bombay: United Asia Publications; 1973.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Sumitra P. Environmental conditions and the juvenile delinquents. J Soc Sci 1963;3:59-73.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Available from: http://www.Pezarkar.com: Information on India - religions in India. [Last accessed on 2010 Sept 13].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Available from: http://www.Pezarkar.com: Caste System in modern India. [Last accessed on 2010 Sept 13].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Rane A. Children in Difficult Situations. A review Tata Institute of Social Sciences. 1986. p. 215, 241.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Gokhale SD, Billimoria HM, Reuben HE. Impact of Institutions on Juvenile Delinquents. Bombay: United Asia Publications; 1968.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Editorial. Juvenile Delinquency. Social Defence 1979;15:1-3.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.Gandhi RC. Social and family background of children committed to Baroda Remand Home, Baroda; 1963.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.Buch DN. Family background of inmates admitted to observation home. Junagadh; 1968.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.Shroff (Miss) RM. Family conditions of inmates of children homes; 1970.  Back to cited text no. 12
    



 
 
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