This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Is It So Hard To Keep Street Children From Sniffing Glue?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

STC logoEditor’s Note: With #TheInvisibles, Youth Ki Awaaz and Save the Children India have joined hands to advocate for the rights of children in street situations in India. Share your stories of what you learned while interacting with street children, what authorities can do to ensure their rights are met, and how we can together fight child labour. Add a post today!

By Amritapa Basu:

We are quite familiar with the sight of street children – most of them below 20 and working as rag-pickers. However, there are some aspects about that we do not often notice – glue sniffing and substance abuse, for instance.

Glue, which they popularly call ‘Dendrite’, is a hot favourite among these children. As these children are mostly homeless, they are forced to rummage through the garbage, pick up rags and run menial errands to eke out a living. Unfortunately, in many cases, the little money they earn is spent on Dendrite. Dendrite tubes are easily available at any hardware shop – and sniffing it from a plastic bag is a treat for many of these children.

Sniffing glue is a form of addiction and their effect is as good as that of drugs. They contains toluene which is a sweet-smelling and intoxicating hydrocarbon. It dissolves the membrane of the brain cells and causes hallucinations. It also allows the person to not feel hunger or cold.

It has been observed that many of these street children have fled home because of poverty, family troubles, hunger or insecurity. They are often coaxed into sniffing glue by their peers – and once addicted, they find it difficult to ‘survive’ without sniffing it for a single day. They then get addicted to this practice, because they can seemingly handle hunger and cold in a better fashion.

But what is the effect of this prolonged inhalation? Most children who sniff glue suffer from critical diseases which manifest in the form of chest pain, headaches and sickness. What’s more troubling is the fact that these children often fail to understand the severity of these ailments.

The immediate negative effects of sniffing Dendrite can be nausea, sneezing, coughing, nose-bleeding, exhaustion, bad breath and loss of appetite. However, deep breathing of the dendrite or using a lot over a short period of time may result in the person losing touch with one’s surroundings, violent behaviour, loss of self-control, unconsciousness and even death in extreme cases.

“The dependence on the smell of adhesive becomes very strong and becomes hard for the children to resist. Prolonged inhalation of toxic fumes of the solvent affect blood, heart, kidney and lungs. The adhesive contains heavy metals like lead, iron and aluminium, which reduces the oxygen carrying capacity in the blood,” Sayeed Akhtar, chief medical officer of the Central Institute of Psychiatry, says. These children sniff more glue in winters to cope with the cold – and as a result, their health worsen. Some children use as many as 15 Dendrite tubes a day, with one tube being used 4-5 times. In absence of proper meals, many use dendrite as a substitute for regular meals.

This menace is very difficult to tackle as one cannot prevent hardware stores from selling glue. Yet, police officers often harass shopkeepers when they catch children with Dendrites in their possession. However, some shopkeepers, being aware of the addictive effects of Dendrite, either increase the cost or do not sell them to minors. Ideally, the next difficult step should be to convince youngsters not to sniff Dendrite.

There are several rehabilitation centres which support street children. However, many do not want to go to these centres as they would be made to give up on their addiction, as a result. Many prefer returning to the ‘street life’ after being released from the centres.

A street child on Park Street, Kolkata, after much pestering, complacently confessed that he had run away from a rehabilitation centre as they had asked him to quit sniffing glue. “Yeh mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai (Not only is it difficult, it is impossible).”  He said that, apart from the glue-addiction, he was also ‘addicted’ to the freedom that this stray life granted him. “Main khush hoon (I am happy),” he said.

More public awareness, personal counselling and proper and effective rehabilitation are required to curb this wide-spread menace. So, the next time you see street children huddling around a plastic bag – take a small step forward and stop them. It might not be of much help, but each step does count!

You must be to comment.
  1. Aayush3991

    that’s sad… awareness should be carried out in schools.. but they don’t go to schools. :'(

  2. Akanksha Maria Paul

    Infact it’s not just street children who are into this..many teenagers from wealthy families and good schools are also into this harmful practice. The problem of substance abuse must be addressed to at the grass root level.

  3. shane joseph

    Even my brother is into this serious problem of dendrite 🙁 …am begging the government of india to take serious action on this ..fivicol,feviquick these kinds of glue is ok but i want dendrite to be removed from this lovable country

  4. tuhin rana mondal

    I want a day when every men and women leave smoke and other like heroine , drugs etc.

    1. tuhin rana mondal

      even my uncle adjust ed in dendrite…his condition had very bad ….but now he recovered… I want the most bad thing is dendrite must leave in the local market and other place…

  5. sameer naik

    Comment * please don’t sniff dendrite.i’m also sufferer of it. I know how it is dangerous for our health. onestly i have done its15 times with my friends. my request is please take a step forward children who huddling around with a plastic bag, take a small step forward to stop them , it might not be of much help but each step will count.plz plz plz I want the whole world live young and healthy.. plz be serious about this.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Ankita Marwaha

By Merril Diniz


    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below