Last week, a teacher of an Andheri school became the victim of a prank. The students replaced her chair with a broken one, which collapsed when she sat, resulting in her sustaining severe injuries on her spinal cord and limbs. The school ignored the incident and didn’t take action against the troublemakers. A few weeks ago, a few students burst a sutli bomb (a firecracker) on the school’s premises, but the action went unpunished.
These incidents have sparked a debate among educators and child development specialists about whether the school was right in ignoring the incident or should they have reported it to the authorities?
City schools are grappling with rising indiscipline among students. With strict laws against corporal punishment in place, teachers are scared of taking action against students, said school principals.
Attempt to cause grievous hurt to someone by using dangerous weapons or means is a punishable offence under Indian Penal Code section 326. If the school or teacher had filed a police case, the students would be tried as juvenile delinquents.
Although schools are understandably hesitant in filing police complaints against students, child development specialists admit that schools need to have in place a mechanism to prevent such behaviour.
“Schools shouldn’t turn a blind eye to such incidents. Filing a police complaint can ruin a child’s future and so schools should take corrective measures without humiliating the child,” said Uday Nare, senior teacher, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri.
Child development specialists said that schools must send such students to counsellors. “Adolescence is the age of transition during which children get carried away by their peers. Punishments can have negative effects on children and they could turn rebellious. A counsellor can help them reform,” said Jayanti Debray, clinical psychologist and counsellor.
However, school principals said that parents often don’t co-operate and in turn blame the teacher or the school. “Maintaining discipline has become a challenge. Even students studying in Classes 3 and 4 think that a teacher cannot scold or punish them. Besides, parents are quick to accuse the teacher of humiliating or torturing the child and approach the education department or media,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Lines.
Pathak said that their school recently brought another counsellor on board to handle the growing cases of undisciplined children. “Our counsellors meet students and parents and explain the need to correct the child’s behaviour. We tell them that by ignoring the incident, they are harming the child in the long run,” said Pathak.