“I’m an orphan. But the public has adopted me, and that has been my only family. The biggest family in the world is my fans.”
Eartha Kitt, Actress
Orphanism: Causes, Effects & Solutions
Orphanism can be defined as the state of a child whose parents have abandoned them, are unknown or have died. Orphanism is a big problem for these children since they often have no one who takes care of them and may suffer from severe mental as well as other health issues.
In this article, the extent, causes, effects and solutions regarding orphanism are examined.
Extent of Orphanism
According to a study conducted by UNICEF, there are around 153 million orphans worldwide. Every day, around 5,700 children become orphans due to several different reasons.
The problem of orphanism is especially severe in poor developing countries where people struggle with a high level of poverty and diseases.
Causes for Orphanism
- Social stigma
- Natural disasters
Conflicts are one cause for children becoming orphans. Many people die from conflicts each year, leaving behind many children who are now on their own. Moreover, conflicts often also separate families.
Parents may be sentenced to jail or deported to other countries while their children are left behind. Children may also be kidnapped during wars and may be held hostile. Thus, conflicts can be a significant cause of orphanism.
Especially in poor developing countries, diseases are a significant reason for orphanism. People often do not have the money to get proper treatment in hospitals and therefore have to deal with their diseases at home. Thus, diseases which would be rather harmless with proper treatment may become life-threatening due to a lack of medical treatment.
Moreover, in some regions, hospitals are quite far away and people often lack the mobility to go there since they often do not have cars or other suitable means of transport. Therefore, diseases can cause high levels of orphanism, especially in periods where epidemics or pandemics are spreading.
Poverty is another significant reason for orphanism. For poor families, it is often quite difficult to provide for all their children. This is especially true in regions with high unemployment. Parents will often not be able to earn enough money to provide their children with basic care.
Thus, high levels of poverty sometimes lead parents to abandon their children and leave them behind in order to be able to rescue the rest from starvation. Studies have shown that this problem is especially severe for girls.
Girls are often regarded to be less worthy than boys since boys are expected to earn a higher income than girls when they turn into grownups and are therefore better able to provide for their family. Thus, girls are at even greater risk to get abandoned by their families due to poverty.
Social norms also often play an important role when it comes to abandoning children. In some cultures, having children before the parents are married is unacceptable. Therefore, in order to avoid social stigma, those children may be abandoned and become orphans due to this social pressure.
Moreover, some people are also cheating on their partner. Children resulting from this cheating are often abandoned since they are not seen as socially correct and would bring shame over the reputation of the family.
Some people may also die in accidents. Accidents could come in various forms. For example, parents could be killed in a traffic accident. Moreover, if parents engage in dangerous jobs like mining, they may be killed if the mine collapses. Thus, accidents can also be a reason for children becoming orphans.
Regions that get hit by natural disasters will often suffer from severe material damage as well as from a high number of fatalities. Many people died due to natural disasters in the past decades. Families are often pulled apart due to the vast destruction of their livelihoods.
Moreover, natural disasters also contribute to the spread of diseases due to unhygienic conditions and destroyed medical infrastructure. This also increases the probability for children to become orphans since their parents are more likely to die from diseases.
Effects of Orphanism
- Mental disorders
- Lack of education
- Health effects
- Drug use
- Drug dealing
- Prison sentence
- Social isolation
Orphans are at great risk to suffer from mental disorders. Since they often experienced violence and other crucial things, they are often traumatized and will suffer from severe mental conditions. This also includes an increased probability of suicidal and self-harming tendencies.
Moreover, children who experienced orphanism will be so shocked that they will never be able to live a normal life with their own family since they simply mistrust everyone around them due to their past experiences.
Lack of education
Orphans will also often suffer from a lack of education since they often do not have people who care about them and send them to school. Moreover, they may also not be able to afford school since they do not have financial support and will not be able to earn enough money.
They will often also not have the time to attend school since they have to work at a job in order to make enough money to survive. Making things worse, without proper education, these children are at great risk to be exploited by firms in the future since they will rely on shitty jobs in order to survive.
Orphans often also suffer from severe health issues. Since they often have no one who looks after them, they also have to deal with injuries or diseases on their own. Often, they will not be able to afford proper medical treatment, which may result in severe consequential damage in the future.
Moreover, a lack of proper medical treatment may also result in chronic diseases. Due to a lack of medical treatment, orphans often have a lower life expectancy than other children since they are at greater risk to die from diseases.
Orphanism will often lead to poverty for the respective children. Since orphans often do not have access to proper education since they cannot afford it and have to work instead, they will become dependent on low-paid jobs in the future which results in a life of poverty.
Without education, it is often impossible for people to get out of poverty since they will not be able to move to richer countries since no one would be willing to employ them. Moreover, also children of orphans are likely to stay poor, since it is shown in many studies that poverty is often inherited.
Orphans may also be at greater risk for drug use. Since they often suffer from mental disorders due to their past experiences, they are at risk to numb their emotional pain through the use of certain substances.
Moreover, orphans often also suffer from severe issues due to their poverty, which also drives them into substance use since they feel they do not have too much to lose and can escape their adverse living conditions, at least for a short period of time until problems become even worse.
In order to make money, drug dealing may be regarded as a quite convenient option. Compared to jobs where you have to work hard and only get low wages, dealing drugs can make you a pretty good income without having too much work.
This may seem quite attractive to orphans since they will not be willing to work in low paid jobs anymore and rather take the risk to go to jail in order to make a higher income from dealing drugs.
Since orphans are often forced to engage in criminal activities in order to survive, they are at a greater risk to eventually end up in jail. It is just a matter of time until you get caught if you participate in criminal actions. Orphans are often willing to engage in criminal activities since this kind of work often is their single source of income.
Moreover, if orphans join gangs, they may be forced by gang members to carry out criminal tasks. Therefore, orphans will be at a higher risk to go to jail one day since their probability to engage in criminal activities is higher compared to a normal child.
After losing their parents, some orphans may have no family left and therefore will have to take care of their own. This may lead to homelessness for many orphans since they will not be able to afford housing due to a lack of income.
These orphans also often lack proper education and will not be able to earn sufficient income in the future and will therefore also stay homeless in the future.
Orphans also often suffer from social isolation. Since they are often homeless, they lack friends and other kinds of social glue. Moreover, due to mental disorders, they may not find other people who want to spend time with them.
Social isolation may lead to a severe level of loneliness for those children, which may transpose in other issues like drug abuse or crimes in later stages.
Many orphans also suffer from starvation. They are often not able to earn enough money to meet their basic needs. Due to a low level of education, they are often unemployed or have to work in low-paid jobs.
Moreover, drug abuse may also contribute to the food shortage issue since drugs are usually quite expensive and orphans may have not enough money left to buy enough food.
Additionally, due to social isolation, orphans will also often have no one who actually cares about them and who might supply them with food or drinks. Thus, orphanism may lead to starvation under certain circumstances.
Solutions for Orphanism
- Provide subsidies for education
- Provide shelter
- Integrate orphans into society
- Provide social security
- Provide health insurance
- Psychological support
- Stop conflicts
- Early warning systems for natural disasters
Provide subsidies for education
A lack of education is a big problem caused by orphanism since it often keeps these children poor even after they turn into grownups. Therefore, it is crucial to provide education for orphans and also subsidize them financially to make school affordable for them.
By doing so, orphans will be able to get a better education and will be more likely to be able to escape poverty when they grow up. They will also have better job opportunities due to better education and might be able to avoid engaging in criminal activities.
Governments and local municipalities should make sure that every orphan is provided with a shelter or housing to live in. It should also be assured that these children have an adult who takes care of them and looks after them. By doing so, these orphans would be more likely to stay on the right track and not to join gangs.
Moreover, these orphans will regain trust in society if they have an adult who treats them well. Thus, it is crucial for orphans to provide them housing and a person who takes care of them in order to ensure a better future.
Integrate orphans into society
It is also crucial to integrate orphans into our society so that they feel associated with our cultural values and feel valuable. If we leave those children behind, we will contribute to social isolation which may translate into criminal behavior and drug abuse.
This integration should start early in school and should follow up through job programs where orphans can figure out their interests and learning skills which provide them with the toolset necessary to be successful in later stages of life.
Provide social security
Orphans often have no permanent living address and therefore often also lack social security. They may also lack social security since they live in countries where the majority of people are not covered under social security schemes. Therefore, in case of unemployment, they will not get financial support at all and may have to engage in criminal actions in order to survive.
By providing social security, governments could effectively mitigate these problems. However, some countries have high levels of debt which makes it hard for them to cover all people with social security protection.
Provide health insurance
Health insurance is quite important for orphans since they will often not be able to afford expensive medical treatment in hospitals if they get sick. Even if they would be able to lend money for medical treatment, they would have to pay off large amounts of debt afterward which would trap them in poverty for a quite long period of time.
Therefore, the government should provide free basic care in case of illness. This would not only help orphans but also support other poor people who will not be able to afford proper medical treatment.
Since orphans often experienced quite bad things in their childhood, they often suffer from severe mental health conditions. In order to help orphans to overcome their trauma, local authorities have to provide sufficient psychological support.
These children need someone who they trust in order to talk about their mental problems and to process the bad things that happened to them.
Conflicts cause many fatalities each year. In many cases, parents of children lose their lives and turn these children into orphans. We have to take measures to stop conflicts in order to avoid orphanism and other horrible consequences related to it.
It is crucial that governments fight armed conflicts on a global scale. Only then will it be possible to secure a world where people will be able to live in peace.
Early warning systems for natural disasters
Since natural disasters can be a serious cause for orphanism, early warning systems should be set up or improved in order to reduce the adverse effects of natural disasters on locals. By doing so, fewer people are likely to die and the number of orphans that will be due to natural disasters may also be lowered.
You can make a big contribution to improve the life of an orphan by adopting him or her. This may not prevent children become orphans, but may give orphans a better future for which they will be forever thankful. There are many official agencies that will help you in the adoption process.
Make sure that you choose official agencies and not dubious private agencies since private adoption agencies are sometimes involved in child trafficking activities. If you follow the official process, you can make one or more children happy and provide them with a better future.
Orphanism is a big environmental as well as a significant social problem on a global scale. Especially in poor developing countries, orphanism is a big issue that can lead to severe problems for the orphans as well as for the whole society.
There are several measures to fight orphanism or at least to give orphans a perspective for a better future. Most of the work has to be done by governments and municipalities in order to improve the structures to integrate orphans in our society. You could also make a big contribution if you are willing to adopt an orphan.
Thus, by combining private and official authority efforts, we will be able to fight orphanism and the related issues more efficiently and to provide orphans with a better future.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
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