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OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence and screen the nature and types of behavioural and psychological problems among working children in Karachi.

METHODS: A cross sectional study was conducted in three urban squatter settlements of Karachi from May to June 2006, targeting working children aged 11-16 years. Behavioural Problems of these children were estimated by using the self reported Urdu version of the Strengths and Difficulty Questionnaire. The results were cross-tabulated using SPSS 13.0 with the identified risk-factors.

RESULTS: Out of a total of 225 respondents, 94.2% (n = 212) males and 5.8% (n = 13) females, the prevalence of Behavioural Problems among working children was found to be 9.8%. Peer problems were most prevalent (16.9%) seconded by Conduct problems (16.7%). Adverse family environment and work environment were closely associated with Behavioural Problems in these children.

CONCLUSION: Our study reinforces the need for measures to improve the environment of the children and prevent the psychological and behavioural problems associated with working children. Gradual, long-term policies are required to decrease the need for working children, though sudden abolishment would cause more detrimental effects.


Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association