Emotional and Behavioural Problems among Sheltered Homeless Children
Introduction: Homelessness in children is a serious problem in the society. Factors leading to
homelessness in Nepalese children are poverty, unemployment, multiple children, exposure to
violence, caste based social discrimination etc. Children living out of their homes have problems
in attachment, temperament, social skills, cognitive ability, and language development. Few nongovernmental
organizations that have started to look after these children but the mental health
need is neglected. The study attempted to investigate the emotional and behavioural problems in
homeless children in one of the shelters in Kathmandu.
Methods: All the children (n=126) in the SAATHI Organization were included in the study. They
were administered Child Behaviour Check List 6-18. Children with T-score ≥65 on externalising or
internalising dimension were further evaluated in the Child Guidance Clinic for the final diagnosis
based on DSM IV.
Results: The prevalence of emotional and behavioural problem among the participants was 36
(28.57%) [15 (26.31%) in boys and 21 (30.43%) in girls] based on CBCL/6-18 years and 29 (23.01%)
[12 (21.05%) in boys and 17 (24.63%) in girls] based on final diagnosis. The conduct problems was
the most common among the male children 5 (8.77%), followed by ODD 3 (5.26%), ADHD 2 (3.5%),
Anxiety 2 (3.50%) whereas Anxiety is most common in female children 9 (13.04 %), followed by
depression 5 (7.24%), conduct 3 (4.34%).
Conclusions: The rate of emotional and behavioral disorder in homeless children in the study is
similar to the school aged non homeless children in previous studies, which may be because of the
protection provided by the shelters. This study highlighted the need for methodologically better
studies in the field.
Keywords: children; emotional and behavioural problems; homelessness; Nepal.
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