mid-day editorial: Schools must teach bullies a lesson

An 11-year-old has been left traumatised after he was sexually assaulted by a senior in the school toilet in Mumbai last month, but school authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the incident. His parents had filed a police complaint against the unidentified boy earlier, but they now say that the accused has assaulted and threatened their son again.

After the first assault, the boy was wracked by nightmares and it took a great deal of persuasion to make him attend school again. So when the same person attacked him again and threatened him, it was all the more important that school authorities act on the complaint.

Several schools tend to dismiss bullying and attacks or assaults on children as childish pranks, part of growing up. Some even justify this as a process that toughens kids up. This incident was none of these things. Why was CCTV footage not checked? Why was it not given to the cops? Why was the accused not called to give an explanation? Even if there is no merit to the latest allegation, that judgment can only be made after a thorough investigation.

Institutes cannot brush these matters under the carpet. Take complaints seriously, act on them and learn from them. It is imperative that students have a sense of safety and security in schools, so they can look forward to studying there. This will happen only when they know their feelings are valued.

The negative impact of bullying on children is not taken seriously enough. A bully can be the cause of loss of confidence in youngsters even after they grow up. Sometimes, those picked on can turn into bullies themselves, later in life.

School is for learning kindness and tolerance, it has no place for bullies. Let us make a concerted effort to stamp out the bully.

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