PUNE: When incidents like abuse or even corporal punishment happen in a school, it doesn’t just affect the victim but also other children. For instance, after the murder of a 7-year-old at Ryan International School, Gurgaon, there were reports of his classmates being scared of going back to school, and the panicked parents too were agitated.
Hyper-vigilance from parents creates negative impact
Speaking about the need for this issue to be handled in a sensitive manner, city-based child psychiatrist Dr Bhushan Shukla said, “Whenever such incidents happen, parents and teachers overreact to the point where the other children get scared. Hyper-vigilance and immediate overreactions from parents often increases the negative impact these incidents have on children.”
Dr Usha Kakade, President, USK foundation, which works with more than 1,000 government and private schools in the city through its initiative ‘Good Touch, Bad Touch’, said, “It’s true that classmates are also affected when they realise something wrong has happened to their friend. We need to talk to them sensitively and reassure them.”
Awareness and education
Kakde said, “In our initiative ‘Good Touch, Bad Touch’, we not only make students aware about the ‘good’ and ‘bad touch’ but also guide them to share any untoward incident or bad touch to their parents, helping prevent further complications. The foundation organises small acts, role play, audio-visuals to guide students. We also teach students to say NO to anybody who is indulging in unwanted touch. Working with schools, we have also taken forward some of the issues and complains shared by students.”
The experts also emphasised that parents need to communicate with children to ensure that they speak out about any uncomfortable issue, and also look for signs through behavioural changes. “Parents should give time to their children and listen to their day-to-day experiences, activities and everything that they feel like a friend. Instead of immediately reacting to everything, parents should quietly observe and listen carefully to monitor their children’s behaviour. Only then would be the child openly speak about everything to his mother or father,” Kakde added.
Handling the issue in a sensitive manner
“Parents and schools need to use their common sense. Parents should realise that these issues are not something to gossip about. It’s about safety of their children. So discussing these things again and again in front of children is an absolute ‘no’. If the parents want children to go to school, they have to go as regular students. So parents need to stop jumping every time something like this happens and if they are interested in their children’s welfare, they need to get actively involved in safety at school. That is the only way to protect children,” Shukla said.
Kakde also added that there is a need to train parents on how to deal with their children on such issues, as well as conduct regular workshops for those people coming in contact with the students.