#Opinion

School Harassment Case: We Once Believed School Was A Second Home…But

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In a shocking incident, students of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Secondary School (PSBB), Chennai accused their teacher Rajagopalan to be a sexual predator. It raises the important question: what happened to schools being safe spaces? We once used to say, schools are children’s second homes.PSBB School harassment case

A male teacher came for an online class wrapped in a towel along his waist. On the night of May 23, 2021 students of this Chennai based school reported that the teacher also asked his students out for a movie over texts and commented on their WhatsApp profile pictures.

Students at the Chennai school started an online campaign against the sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour. PSBB has acknowledged the case. Read more on the case here.

What’s happened to teachers?

As children, we were taught to look up to our teachers and follow their footsteps. But can we really do that now? Are people like Rajagopalan breaching the trust between children and teachers?

Why aren’t schools looking to these?

What’s worse is that the authorities in many such cases refuse to take immediate actions to ‘maintain the reputation’ of the school.

It is not the first time that there have been a cases of sexual harassment at a school. In 2017, similar cases were reported in Ryan International School, Gurugram and Tagore Public School, Delhi. Condemning these atrocities, Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi had said, schools are no longer safe for children.

He said, “In the light of recent atrocities, schools are unfortunately not safe anymore. We have failed in ensuring security for our children”.

Stop blaming the children. Educate your teachers

Allegedly, the PSBB school teacher Rajagoplan called his female students, “women of easy virtue” because they choose dress up as per their desire. How can such teachers help build character?

It’s the job of teachers to help students shape their character and ready for the big leap in life. If teachers misuse their power, how can we call schools temples of learning?

Impact on Children

When a child goes through a harrowing experience of sexual harassment at school, their idea of the place changes forever. They might develop severe mental health complications which can prove to be harmful for them in the long run. Research reveals that victims of child abuse can develop conditions like depression, PTSD, dissociative and anxiety disorders, poor self esteem and so on.

School harassment cases: what statistics reveal

In Oct 2020, a study was conducted to find out how many women were assaulted as students in India. Out of 567 respondents, 57 were assaulted by at least one person of their institution. Out of these 12.28 per cent were assaulted by a faculty member and 10.52 per cent of them were assaulted by a staff member. With these alarming numbers, can we really call schools our second homes anymore?

The numbers however do not seem to come down even after the shift of education to the online mode. Teachers are now finding virtual methods to make sexual approaches towards their students. If they are not held accountable for their filthy movements, schools can never become a safe place to impart education again.

Picture is representational only