Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Violence on the increase in Indian schools

Aping the west seems to be the in thing for most Indians. From fashions to films, from language to governance, from the constitution to the education system, this country is becoming more and more unidentifiable from most western nations. And sadly, one of those things is the number of cases of violence in school that you see when you open a newspaper.

When Indians used to spend time watching or reading about violence in American schools, they did get a nice, warm, fuzzy, feeling about their own superiority. After all, “our Culture is so much better. India will never have kids shooting each other in school”, we are different. Well, turns out, we are not so very different after all. There have been an increasing number of incidents recently of kids bringing violence to other kids in their school. From the Delhi school kid who shot his classmates with his father’s gun, to bullying, beating up, and all kinds of violence which is on the increase, Indian schools are no longer a really safe place for kids.

Even apart from the number of teachers and administrators who are getting violent with kids, children themselves are the major new cause of violence in schools. The question, of course, is why. Well, there are probably a huge number of psychological, and social, reasons why kids have suddenly lost their innocence and turned violent. Some of those reasons are quite obvious even to a layperson. First of all, there seems to be a complete absence, in most of the violent kids’ lives, of parental guidance or discipline of any sort. If you don’t learn at home that rules have to be followed; people’s rights must be respected, even when they don’t agree with you; and that violence or loss of control does not solve anything, then you don’t learn these really important social lessons at all!

Most kids grow up these days on a diet of violent films, violent video games, even more violent news, and parents who are constantly losing control at home. Add to this the fact that with the number of double income families, and the number of working hours for each parent, on the increase, and kids have practically no adult supervision, or quality time. This makes them disconnected and angry. Stress levels too, are higher than ever before, even for school age kids. Insane pressure at school and home, constant pushing and prodding, and a number of other factors combine to make these kids like walking time bombs, just waiting to explode.

Give any of these kids access to a weapon, like a callous and irresponsible father who leaves guns lying around, and chances are that any little extra angst will set them off. Then eleven year olds will go on shooting sprees, and fifteen year olds will plan and execute the kidnap and murder of a classmate or a rival. Everyone, including parents, needs to think hard about what can be done to prevent this. If a little time, attention and the right ethical and value system can make a difference, we owe it to them to provide it.

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