Growing Violence In Schools – Is It A ‘Trend’ And What Can We Do About It?

Growing Violence In Schools – Is It A ‘Trend’ And What Can We Do About It?

The need of the hour is proper counselling for students who develop violent tendencies and exhibit behaviourial aberrations

Aditya MukherjeeUpdated: Tuesday, May 28, 2024, 10:43 PM IST
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Representative Image | Pixabay

Two recent incidents in two Delhi schools have highlighted the manifestation of violent instincts among school students, regardless of gender specificity. A 14-year-old girl in a girls’ school was allegedly attacked by her classmate with a blade, resulting in serious injuries that required 17 stiches on her face. And this happened when she tried to pacify some of her friends who got into a serious argument over the snatching of a tiffin box. A purported video of the altercation went viral on social media. The video shows a girl being allegedly attacked with a blade within the school premises. A 13-year-old student stabs to death a nine-year-old student in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district following an argument. In another gruesome incident that defies reason, a Delhi boy is allegedly beaten and sexually assaulted by his classmates over a small argument.

These above incidents glaringly expose how both our education system and the family as institutions have failed to rein in the baser instincts in our children. It is becoming abundantly clear that the innate violent tendencies in children can no longer be entrusted solely to the natural maturation process. Teachers are often overburdened, which can make it difficult for them to keep a close eye on every student. The reality of donations in the realm of education is well-known, yet seldom spoken about. In the relentless pursuit of profit, classrooms are teeming with so many young minds that even the most dedicated kindergarten teachers find it an arduous task to maintain order.

In addition, today’s youngsters are frequently exposed to graphic violence through OTT platforms and Hollywood movies. Moreover, many teachers hold the belief that school children often witness domestic violence in their homes, which can contribute to their aggressive behaviour. Consequently, it is evident that parents bear equal responsibility in this matter. In several cases, it has been found that parents lack the education necessary to effectively teach and instil moral values in their children. Poverty is another reason why school children often resort to violence in schools. The sense of deprivation they experience, in not being able meet their demands unlike other well-off youngsters of their age, often transforms their frustration into aggression. The need of the hour is proper counselling for students who develop violent tendencies and exhibit behavioural aberrations.

For long, teachers weaponised corporal punishment as a disciplining tool for students. But thankfully, it was banned after reports appeared of teachers taking their disciplinary methods too far, causing bodily harm to students. Dealing with unruly and indisciplined students is never easy for a teacher, who must possess patience and a deep understanding of student psychology. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, at a recent seminar, described his own experience of being subjected to corporal punishment as a student. “How you treat children leaves a deep impact in their mind for lifetime. I will never forget the day in school ... when I was caned on my hands and my offence was not to bring the right sized needles to class for craftwork.”

The fatal online ‘Blue Whale’ challenge, which culminates in self-harm and suicide, has claimed numerous young lives in India since 2017. This perilous game insidiously exploited the vulnerable aspects of young people’s psyche, stripping away their innate sensitivity and moral compass.

Instances of violence in schools seem to become normalised. In another incident, a few years ago, two boys in a school had to be separated by adults as they went for each other’s throats, one even trying to hit the other on the head with a guitar lying nearby. A cherished darling of the household, basking in the indulgence of doting parents, may perceive no folly in engaging in a quarrel with a schoolmate, secure in the knowledge that their ever-supportive parents will unfailingly champion their cause. Furthermore, affluent children exhibit a sense of entitlement like never before.

The role of schools should go beyond preparing students to become successful engineers and doctors. Teachers in schools and parents at home must instil in students from an early age the values of empathy and compassion, which should also encompass love for animals and plants. These teachings need not necessarily be part of the school curriculum. It is debatable how many schools today effectively help students internalise the example set by Mahatma Gandhi, emphasising compassion, fellow feeling, and the virtues of non-violence. Furthermore, efforts should be made to encourage students to cultivate book reading habits beyond their class textbooks, fostering imagination and creativity. In the famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the honest lawyer Atticus Finch teaches his children to be compassionate and understanding towards others, even those who have made mistakes, and that everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

After all, a generation steeped in violence heralds a grim future for any nation, echoing the old adage, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

The writer is a Delhi-based journalist

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