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In November, a rash of cases of sexual harassment and violence were reported from schools. Some students committed suicide. A teacher in Karur committed suicide allegedly because he was scared of students leveling sexual assault charges against him.

Sexual assault on a minor especially at schools is a serious issue. The November incidents have helped to create much awareness including in villages. Inappropriate behaviour by adults including teachers is now widely feared and discussed.

The Karur teacher’s suicide, however, brought forth the issue of overreach. Are these allegations being used by students, parents and teachers to settle scores? Are students indulging in vigilantism against teachers threatening to level such allegations against them?

Secretary of Primary School Teachers Association Federation, Annamalai agrees that there are incidents where these allegations have been used to victimize teachers. “As much as there is truth in the allegations, there are also incidents where sexual assault allegations were used to settle scores against teachers. In a few cases teachers have used it as a method to extract vengeance against their colleagues while in some cases, parents encouraged their wards to level such allegations against teachers they did not like,” he said.

Annamalai says these are not regular incidents reported across schools. But exceptional cases do come out when the association makes inquiries. Stringent action is taken against teachers who are found guilty. Students should never hesitate to file a complaint against sexual violence or harassment, he said.

The Karur teacher’s suicide, however, brought forth the issue of overreach. Are these allegations being used by students, parents and teachers to settle scores? Are students indulging in vigilantism against teachers threatening to level such allegations against them?

He cited poor training in teacher training and B Ed colleges in the last ten years. A sizable number of teachers don’t have the training to deal with students. Appointment orders have not been issued after 2012. This has caused a severe manpower shortage. “Temporarily recruited teachers lack an understanding of the profession. They don’t dress and behave like teachers. It is a mess,” he said.

The generation gap between teachers and students is also a concern. An experienced teacher knows how to steer through these problems, he said. Teachers have been reduced as examination trainers in many of the educational institutions. They also don’t realize the dignity of their job. This is where the B Ed colleges and proper training play a major role, he added.

Annamalai said parents play a vital role. Parents should educate their children about student – teacher relationships. Present day students don’t treat teachers like the past generations. There have been cases of students manhandling teachers, he added.

Psychiatrist Sujatha says there should be major changes among parents and educational institutions to stop sexual violence against children. The profession of a teacher needs a lot of dedication. A sense of patriarchy has been ingrained in our society. Men and women are treated differently. Society gives more privileges to men and such a patriarchal approach emboldens them. And, children are most vulnerable, she said.

Parents have a greater role in shaping a boy child. A boy who sees a father abusing mother will assume it as a trait of a man. The family should teach a boy child to respect women. The parents should also teach children about schools and teachers, she said.

Secretary of Primary School Teachers Association Federation, Annamalai: “Temporarily recruited teachers lack an understanding of the profession. They don’t dress and behave like teachers. It is a mess.”

Mobile phone addiction among students is another major cause of concern at present. Mobile phones literally shape the character of children these days. Parents should have an eye on their children on this aspect. They pick a lot of unwanted traits while using mobile phones, she said.

Schools and parents should also stop forcing children on marks based performance. The children should be motivated to find their interest and excel. The enormous pressure on children would lead them astray. Schools, teachers and parents have a greater role to play in this regard, she added.


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