Yet another unfortunate incident has jolted the school education system. A class 9 student ended her life at her home in Noida on 20 March, 2018. The 15-year-old's family has filed a case against two of her teachers. The First Investigation Report (FIR) names two teachers, who taught her at a private school in capital of the country. The girl’s father alleged that she had complained of the two teachers harassing her, and that they would deliberately fail her in the exams. "She told me two of her teachers had behaved with her inappropriately but I said, since I am also a teacher, I can say they cannot do it. It may have been a mistake but she said, she's scared of them and no matter how well she writes, they'll fail her,” said the devastated father. (Source: NDTV)
We must stand by the family during these tormenting hours of pain and grief and help them try to come out of the trauma of losing an innocent child. As usual, the news channels have got an opportunity to make random claims and conclusions without considering that the investigation is still going on. They are most certainly blaming the school teachers without even waiting for the probe to end. No can definitely raise questions at the claim of the parents but one should refrain from making any comments at least till the time the investigation is going on. Some of the news channels have yet again hit a new low by continuously focusing on how the suicide must have taken place by enactment and dramatization. They aren’t showing any consideration to the fact that so many students are appearing in their board exams and it is the time of great stress for some kids and not every child is able to perform well. Therefore, explicitly showing the way in which the traumatic incident must have taken place is quite dangerous and irresponsible on the part of the some section of the media. Should they not be more careful? This explicit portrayal might give ideas to the kids who are distressed, emotionally or otherwise.
When I think about the sad course of events, I feel that we have yet again failed as parents and teachers to make the students realize that failure isn’t the end of life and they do not have to be scared of failing. Life isn’t about just passing an exam and your worth isn’t measured with certain grades and scores. Children are much more important than the marks or any pass or fail. I have discussed this issue in my previous articles and would reiterate the fact that we have to make our children strong enough to face any negativity with courage and overcome it with strong will power. Even though the government is taking various measures, the constant fear of failure is still engulfing the spirits of students. For making students feel comfortable and stress free the syllabus is being cut short and the question papers are being simplified. On the contrary, these measures are making the students incompetent and incapable of facing any kind of genuine problem or difficulty. As a result, they panic in the times of struggle and easily fall a prey to depression and acute stress.
According to the news channels, the deceased child was good in dance and other co-curricular activities. Then why was she suffering the harassment, so scared of failure that she had to take such an extreme step? My heart aches to think of the trauma she might have gone through before taking such a grave step. As parents and teachers, why aren’t we able to curb this fear and make our kids confident and strong enough so that they don’t succumb to it when it haunts them in the guise of failure? It’s the need of the hour that our kids learn to face and tackle any kind of situation with courage and reason. Most importantly a strong bond of trust between the kids and parents is required so that they can freely open up about their problems and dilemmas and expect a solution without hesitation and fear of being scolded and judged. Why isn’t a teenager being treated as an individual who should be made self-sufficient to face the good and evil existing in the real world? Why they are still cocooned and kept away from relevant issues and discussions? Well, the safety net that we are striving so hard to provide them has its own demerits.
The first problem is the need for instant gratification. Everybody in the present times is running after quick and easy success (defined in their own terms). Everything from shopping to food is becoming instant and apparently a click away. Once kids get into the habit of acquiring everything ‘asap’ any kind of delay or shortage causes anxiety and stress. The youth wants immediate replies, likes, appreciation and acknowledgement and what not? And when this doesn’t happen, they feel empty and defeated. They don’t realize the importance of patience and hard work and the success achieved through the same. Kids are being provided with those things that they don’t even need at this age. They are actually devoid of the experiencing not possessing something and acquiring it after a lot of effort. For example, years ago we used to wait for one week for the telecast of the next episode of our favourite soap operas. Now-a-days, anything can be streamed live or downloaded in bulk from Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. This kills the sense of inquisitiveness and builds up restlessness. Psychologists will agree with me when I say that this is the way habits are formed and they become a part of our personality. Other problems that the kids are constantly facing are digital extravaganza, peer pressure, lack of parental support and understanding, impatience, intolerance, anxiety due to bad food habits, stress, over-eating and lack of physical activities due to time spent on phones and coaching centres. All this decreases a child’s self –esteem and easily makes him/her vulnerable and prone to negativities.
An innocent child has lost her life. This also puts a question mark on the law and order system of our country. The cases of molestation and physical abuse are piling up as the laws are not being strictly implemented. Such heinous crimes are taking place every day but there isn’t any concrete survey to suggest that appropriate measures are being taken so as to curb the increasing rate of such crimes. Law and order is important and citizens must abide by the laws and have faith in the judicial system. But at the same time society needs to come together and be more vigilant in order to curb such heinous crimes.
This brings me to analyze the other side of the story. While the parents are demanding strict action against the accused, which is totally justified; the news channels are trying to gain TRP by bringing the entire education system under a question mark. There can be bad elements in any profession; this doesn’t mean that we start questioning the piousness of a respectable profession like teaching.
I worry that this kind of portrayal by media has created problems for committed and dedicated teachers who worship their profession. How many teachers would ask the students to work hard and study in such a situation? This country already faces a scarcity of well qualified and dedicated teachers not only in schools but universities as well. Why can’t the committed teachers and vigilant parents come together and make the kids confident about themselves and rule out the fear of failing from their minds? I always tell the teachers that their role has become more crucial and significant than ever. The responsibility of the future citizens lies on their shoulders. As parents and teachers we will have to speculate how to make our kids strong, tolerant, patient and brave. If parents, kids and teachers have constant communication and trust on each other, then many such problems will be taken care of easily. Parents must also be aware of their child’s emotional state so that corrective measures could be taken on time and safety of their kids is insured.
In the end, I call out to all the teachers that the times are gloomy but certain evil elements existing in your pious profession cannot take away the commitment and dedication with which you have given your everything to your job. These are the times when you will have to stand more determined, love your jobs more than ever and speak out loud to the world, “We will come back here and do it again. Teaching and leading can be hard and emotionally draining but we will come back tomorrow, that is what we will do because our students need us.”