The recent developments do make you wonder about the state of affairs in our society and addressing the root problem remains a focal point not only for governments ruling but school administrators and adults nurturing children who will emerge and take their place as citizens of this country.
It has to be a collaborative effort and the same message communicated to one and all about mutual respect and tolerance. It is disappointing to take stock that years of independence and progressive leaders guiding this country still brings us to the fundamental problem of inequality! This is a country that boasts of freedom fighters like ‘Jhansi ki Rani’ bearing responsibility for freedom as a constitutional right with the likes of ‘Tilak Saheb’ and ‘Gandhiji’, and yet we read about a girl being victimised in a busy street in Bangalore.
What went wrong?
We pray to Durga Ma, Saraswati and in the same breath read about women not being allowed to touch objects in their home during their menstrual cycle!
Something has to change for the future of every child and I say any child.
Cancelling musical concerts for the safety of the children especially girls cannot be the solution because then we need to admit our society is afraid to change and live up to its democratic outlook. Communication and the message of love, respect and tolerance through schools therefore seems to be a more tangible solution to begin this process of changing mindsets. But we as adults teaching the younger ones also need to walk the talk.
If we are mother-in-laws and practice untouchability with our daughter-in-laws, then we will never be able to inspire the boys in our care to respect women. If constantly we tell our boys that only girls cry and accept that as a given, then the boys will learn to hate and despise and that frustration will emerge as an outlet later in life. If we in schools have a separate provision for girl activities and boy activities, then the bias will set in and the respect will be lost forever!
Creating a curriculum subject and getting kids to study it as we had in our time – Moral Values will only make them crave for free periods because children cannot in this day and era be taught by preaching. They will need to see it in our everyday action, in the words we use, in the strategies we adopt…. children will need to see us change first and openly discuss this rather than sit and listen to someone tell them that they will be punished for not respecting. Create platforms for collaboration in schools, where guys and boys work hand in hand, create more co-educational schools, create more communication and counselling sessions with children and create more opportunities for them to share their confusion and be available to guide them.
Gone is the time for punishments… bring in positive reinforcements for children to understand that respect is non-negotiable. As a nation of educators (whether you are in education or not you become one simply by your association with a child) we need to first reflect on our mindset and change it to be able to inspire the children under our care.
And mind you, I also begin my saying that the road ahead is a long one but one steps, collective steps will make an impact. I surely hope so