The case of a 43-year-old English teacher being locked up in the washroom of an east Delhi school is a worrying reminder of increased cases of intimidation of teachers by students.
Experts said the problem can be tackled only when the interests of not just students but also teachers are taken seriously by schools.
Intimidation, sexual harassment and stalking of teachers, especially young women, has become common in many schools, says a prominent counsellor in Delhi. A young teacher in his care has been diagnosed with depression, the probable cause of which is bullying by students. “She is young and qualified but has not been able to deal in the long term with the inappropriate behaviour of some senior students,” he says.
School authorities have to lay down rules to ensure the safety of not just students but teachers too. “The health, honour and dignity of a teacher is a matter of protection and promotion by principals and school authorities before the child is made a beneficiary of the school’s holistic vision and mission. We simply cannot expect the respect of a teacher to be lowered and expect the bargain to be in favour of the overall development of students,” says Dr Jitendra Nagpal, senior consultant psychiatrist, in-charge, Institute of Child Development at Moolchand Medcity.
Children need someone to listen to and many of those from dysfunctional homes feel neglected and develop anger issues, says Geetanjali Kumar, a Delhi-based counsellor. Currently conducting a workshop on effective classroom management in a Delhi school, Kumar says she recently met a Class 9 student who “cried every night because she feels overwhelmed by problems. Her parents are not available most of the time to help her deal with the pressure of studies and personal problems.
There is another boy at the workshop who says his family rules dictate that television be switched off after dinner and all of them – his parents, sister, uncle and grandparents - sit in the living room, discuss their day, share problems, seek solutions and talk about things they have learned. The focus is on quality time,” Kumar says.
Acknowledging that cases of bullying are increasing, Kumar says effective classroom management is crucial. Teachers are managers, they have to understand how to talk and stand with authority in class .
“Ask yourself why you decided to become a teacher? If you are confident, you will take your training seriously. Today’s classroom teaching is very different from what writers of B.Ed (bachelor’s of education) textbooks perceived. You are responsible for not just the victim but the perpetrators too because all of them are children in your care,” says Kumar.