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How safe are our students

Not a single day passes without some gruesome story about suicide, murder or young school boys being sodomised, school girls being raped within the school campus; the latter by teachers. We cringe to hear such news and our faith in basic human values take a knock each time we are confronted with such horror stories. Added to this is the new social media terror that teenagers seem to be addicted to – the Blue Whale Challenge – which has already taken a few lives. There is too much to cope in a single day yet we cannot simply black such out these events. The point is to reinforce security on all fronts in educational institutions. That the driver of a school bus in Ryan’s International School, Gurugram should be able to enter the students’ toilet and carry out his heinous act of slitting open a student’s throat, just exposes how lax the whole system is. These days it is impossible to trust anyone not to commit obscenities. That is the premise on which schools should operate. In the past we are informed of bigger boys bullying smaller boys in toilets etc. These may sound absurd but they happen all the time, yet they are hushed up by most schools. Parents too don’t report such incidents or even incidents of bullying by teachers for fear that their kids might lose the seat in that “prestigious” or “elite” school. This has only exacerbated the problems in educational institutions. It is only when children die or are brutally attacked that parents dare speak up. But this culture of silence helps no one.

Physical assaults by male teachers are tales we often hear being told by parents outside the school campuses. Students too narrate such stories to each other after they have passed out. Some suffer such scars forever. Others become violent as a consequence of having been victims of violence. The psychological damage inflicted by teachers or fellow students is incalculable. Yet parents stoically suffer such ignominy. Is this helping anyone? Is there a system of anonymous complaints by parents so that schools can take corrective steps? Granted that there will be several bogus whining from vested interests but there could also be genuine grievances that could lead to greater harm in the long run if left unaddressed. The question to ask here is what are the Parent-Teachers’ Associations(PTA) doing if not to engage with the school authorities for the greater good of their children?      

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