Surge in rage

May 05, 2012, 09:12 IST | Sudeshna Chowdhury

From the feeling of revenge to jealousy, children are flying off the handle for trivial reasons. A look at why violence amongst children is becoming so common

It is only when we wake up to depressingly shocking headlines about some teenager being killed in some part of the city, do we sit back and think-What can be done to prevent another tragedy? The latest example of teenage rage being the tragic death of 17-year-old Ansh Agarwal, who was beaten to death by a group of 15 men in Andheri (East) over an altercation involving a message sent to a girl, on a social networking site. On April 27, a teenager was arrested for killing his mother after he was denied money to buy alcohol.

Illustration/Amit Bandre

In the face of spreading teenage violence, parents and counsellors are concerned about how to shield their children from pernicious influences. Dr Bindu Chowdary, Principal of a college in Ghatkopar (East) seems to have figured a way out. “I sit with my son everyday and we talk like friends. It’s that simple,” she said. The mother-son duo even has a name for their everyday meetings. “We call them ‘the dil ki baat’ sessions. After a hard day’s work, this is the time when my son and I talk about the day’s events and unwind. We also clarify our doubts on various issues bothering us. I have been holding these dil ki baat sessions since when my son was just five years old. He is 15 now, so it has been 10 years. Infact, I believe that this is what parents must do to figure out what their child is up to,”said Chowdary.

Lessons from the police: Children learn to be vigilant against crime. File pic

But the process of getting to know your child should start when he/she is very young. After a certain age, kids find it difficult to suddenly open up and express themselves. “Earlier it was my son who would do most of the talking, but now he insists that I should also share my set of problems with him,” she added. Mita Vora from Tardeo ensures that her sons abstain from watching serials, movies, etcetra, which depict too much violence. “I want my kids to get exposed to the right kind of environment while they are growing up. I keep a check on what they are browsing on the Internet. At the same time, I prevent them from watching violent movies or playing video games, some of which are violent,” said Vora who rues that a high level of violence is depicted even through cartoons.

Trouble: Accused produced in Andheri court for killing Ansh Agarwal 

“At times it becomes a challenge for parents too. Depiction of violence in everyday life is so common that as a parent it becomes impossible for one to prevent their kids from getting exposed to some form of aggression,” said Vora, who has two sons. Sibling rivalry is also one of her concerns. “When you have more than one child, as a parent one must ensure that equal treatment should be meted out to all of them and there should be no favouritism whatsoever. I am conscious of the fact that sibling rivalry can make a child really aggressive. Hence, I make sure that I treat my two sons equally,” added Vora.

Schools too should take up responsibility for the psychological well-being of children. “Parents of younger children especially, tell us that younger kids try and emulate whatever they watch in movies. In one such incident, a child was hit in the eye by another child. When the teacher asked him, why he had done this, the child replied, ‘If Salman Khan can do, why can’t I?’ One has to realise that young and impressionable minds are more prone to aggression. This is why most schools should have counsellors and regular counselling sessions should be held to keep a check on students and sort out their problems,” insists Arundhati Chauhan, President of Parent Teacher Association (PTA). However most schools seem to focus only on academics. “Stress, peer pressure and heavy workload are some of the causes for the enhanced level of aggression amongst kids. Schools and colleges should realise that it is not just Intelligent Quotient (IQ) of a child that matters, Emotional Quotient (EQ) is equally important. It is EQ, which helps a child to keep his emotions under control. Hence, the government should appoint counsellors in every educational institution so that these issues can be addressed,” said Chauhan.

Many teachers feel that even an aggressive and impulsive child should be dealt with a lot of care. “Beating him/her up for what he/she has done or any other severe punishment can further worsen the situation. A child might become a recluse altogether,” said Chowdary, who is also a teacher.
Recalling one such incident, she said, “I remember that in my previous college, where I used to work as a teacher, the students insisted that they wanted to get a DJ for one of the events. I flatly refused. The students went to the bathroom and broke the glass windows and doors. I asked them who all were responsible for this act of vandalism, but no one came forward. I gave them a day to think over it and come up with an answer. But all throughout, while addressing them I didn’t raise my voice even once. I was calm and composed. Finally, the next day the students gathered and apologised for their behaviour and I decided to let them go. Not only were they sorry, but they repaired the bathroom doors and windows.”

Psychiatrists and experts believe that peer groups can also play a role in this. Psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria said, “Peer counsellors in school can help a lot. In many schools, older kids who are popular amongst students and good with interpersonal skills can be appointed as counsellors. Children will be able to relate to them more easily. Infact many Indian schools have started having peer counsellor groups.” When asked if human life itself is becoming cheaper, Chhabria replied, “Probably yes. This definitely could be one of the reasons why expression of rage has increased. The sanctity of life has gone down. People realise that it is all right to kill somebody and media too glorifies the killers and the victims. Also there is no real fear of law because one knows that it is easy to get away. If you talk about youngsters then desensitization is happening nowadays.” Dr Henal Shah, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Nair hospital disagrees. “Human life hasn’t become cheap but due to increase in stress, threshold level has come down. Hence people fly off the handle for trivial reasons,” said Shah.

“It is also important to note, what was the motive behind the killing? The motive was to harm or kill. Infact in most incidents the motive initially was to harm the person,” said Chhabria, who suggests that parents should not shy away from discussing Ansh like cases at home. “Hyperactive kids do not realise the consequences of their actions. So, parents should openly engage with the child and ask him/her, ‘What do you think has happened? According to you what should have been done?’ Only then will you get to know what the kid is thinking,” added Chhabria. Shah believes that Yoga camps and meditation sessions too can help a lot in anger management. “The ability to deal with pressure and cope with failure in a positive manner is important,” concludes Shah.

A 17-year-old boy was beaten to death by a group of 15 men in Andheri (East) recently, over an altercation involving a message sent to a girl on a social networking site. The police have arrested 12 persons, including two minors, for killing Ansh Agarwal. The incident took place near the Kohinoor Hotel on the Andheri-Kurla Road. Ansh was a Second Year Junior College student at a college in Juhu, where most of the accused in the case also studied. According to cops, Ansh had been involved in an argument with one of the minors accused in the case, almost a month ago. From what the accused have said to the police, the argument started over a Facebook message sent to a girl who is friends with both the victim and the minor offender. “They had an argument and both of them abused each other,” said Senior Police Inspector Suresh Hujband of MIDC police station. “Ansh and the minor started arguing again, and a brawl ensued. The minor gathered a group of 14 persons around him, and then cornered Ansh, assaulting him sticks and an iron rod. When he fell, one of the accused took a paver block and smashed his head with it,” said Hujband. The boys then fled from the spot, leaving Ansh in a pool of his blood. He was rushed to Kiran Hospital in Andheri (East), only to be declared dead on arrival. “We returned to the spot and spoke to witnesses. A case was registered. The accused persons were arrested after Ansh's brother identified them. They have admitted to the offence. Statements of many persons have been recorded,” said Hujband. While the two minor offenders will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act, the other 10 accused have been booked under Sections 302 (murder), 142 (unlawful assembly) and 145 (continuing in unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.

A teenager was arrested by the Shivaji Nagar Police on charges of killing his mother. The suspect, Faheem Qureshi, was arrested on basis of the statement given by his younger brother Rais. A senior police inspector said that Qureshi killed his mother after she refused to give him money to buy alcohol. The woman was hit with a metallic vessel on the head. She was later rushed to a nearby hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.  

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