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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Reach out

I wonder if there is anyone who has gone through school without teasing or being teased by classmates. It is just as natural for those being heckled no end to feel murderous towards their peers — it is all a part of school life and of growing up. If a student feels she can no longer put up with such sustained bullying, she ought to talk to her parents or teachers. This is often the case, at least in a girls’ school. Whipping out a gun and shooting down the bully is never, and should never be, a natural choice. We lead a fast life today, made faster by the speed at which brands of consumer goods hit the shelves of shopping plazas. All this has complicated relationships, notions and sense of the family. Parents and children have distanced from each other. Neither seem to have any time for or patience with the other. It would be a different world if parents tried to listen to their children, and kids, on their part, never hesitated to reach out to their mum and dad in times of trouble. But this kind of no-holds-barred dialogue is practically absent today. Had there been one, incidents like the one in Gurgaon would not have happened. A better understanding between adults and children can prevent them from reaching out for guns. There can be no argument about the need for students to realize that violence is not a way out. But it is also the responsibility of parents to keep a check on their children’s lives by talking to them — about school, about friends, or anything under the sun that could keep a conversation going. They should also try to keep dangerous toys like guns out of their children’s reach. And as students we could perhaps keep ourselves from being swayed too much by what we see and hear on the TV, internet or lifestyle magazines. In other words, we have to learn to behave more responsibly and take control of our lives. Hopefully, Gurgaons will stop recurring then.

Julia Banerjee
Class VI, Calcutta Girls’ High School

The child learns from and emulates the adult. The violent ways of adults would, obviously, influence children as they grow up. Time these days seems to run faster than it used to, taking away with it human values as well as the bond that holds human relationships together. The ways of the world are changing, and so are its children. The daily reports of student violence thus do not shock us any more and child murderers continue to make headlines every other day. Yet the growing incidence of juvenile crime should be a warning for the adults, and their hankering after the ‘gun culture’ of the West, especially of America. India is busy trying to imbibe the ‘global’ culture that typifies most developed and developing societies. But we should remember that easy access to weapons and drugs and the changing lifestyle in India’s towns and cities are a fallout of this culture, and the economic prosperity we lust for. We have to find a way to reduce crime among children. To do that, schools — each and every one of them — must appoint child counsellors to conduct outreach programmes on violence and crisis management. Counsellors must facilitate the often-difficult communication between students and their parents and teachers. Exercises such as yoga and meditation could calm restless minds and improve concentration. Perhaps closer surveillance in the form of strengthened security in schools should be considered as well. But most important, there should be greater trust between children and those who bring them up.

Shrestha Ash
Class VIII, Loreto Day School, Dharamtala

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