mid-day editorial: Chop out cruelty, not kids' confidence

For the small offence of letting their hair grow longer than the school-approved short crop, as many as 25 kids were subjected to great cruelty by staffers of a Vikhroli school. The school director, physical training (PT) teacher and office assistant chopped off clumps of the boys' hair, in the process also snipping away at the children's self-esteem.

It is shocking that the school deems fit to shame students and assumes that students will learn from such humiliation. The punishment should reinforce the message that rules made for the good of the students.

Teachers and parents too must remember that mocks and taunts can cut deeply at this impressionable age. Youngsters are unlikely to ever forget how they were humiliated. It may be seared into them for a long time and scar them mentally too. Children can unwittingly be extremely cruel at that age, and kids who have been publicly humiliated can further become victims of bullying from their classmates. Besides, such extreme punishments do nothing except teach children that it is okay to use violence and hurt others.

In this case, a firm reprimand, a warning to get a haircut, or a letter to the parents would have done. Instead, the school officials responded by chopping off their hair in a rough manner and injuring them. These educationists could have hauled the kids off to a barber. They could have called their parents and asked them why their children had not cut their hair. They could have put a remark in their school books or diaries. There were numerous ways in which the rules could have been enforced, instead of this foolish approach.

While it is important to firmly teach children to follow rules, it is equally important to ensure that the punishment is always aimed at reform, not humiliation.

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