Lessons not learnt by schools

Protesters in front of the Deshapriya Park school where a dance teacher allegedly sexually assaulted a child. (Bishwarup Dutta)

Calcutta: The arrest of a dance teacher in a Deshapriya Park school for alleged "aggravated sexual assault" on a Class II student has led child rights advocates to doubt whether institutes in the city have learnt their lessons from previous incidents.

Some unanswered questions raised by the parents of the child who was allegedly targeted have added to the furore over what is the third such incident in a Calcutta school in less than six months.

The parents want to know how a male dance teacher worked in a girls' school, why there was no CCTV surveillance on the campus and whether the missionary-run school couldn't have initiated action the moment they lodged a verbal complaint on Thursday.

"A girls' school shouldn't have had a male teacher for a performing art like dance after what happened recently on another campus," Tilottama Mukherjee, who teaches child and adolescent mental health at Calcutta University, told Metro.

"A personality test of the male teacher by professionally trained clinical psychologists would have helped if the school was unable to replace him with a female teacher," she said.

According to psychologists, a child would invariably miss "a bad touch", more so if the offender is someone she trusts. "It is very difficult for tiny tots to do that. Even if they can, they would hesitate to share the trauma," said Anita Basu, a member of the West Bengal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The Class II student had skipped school for a few days after complaining to her mother about the dance teacher allegedly touching her inappropriately for months.

Sources said even before the complaint was lodged, the school had asked the dance teacher to find another job by end-February and were in the process of appointing a woman in his place. "But the school should have been prompt in this regard, particularly in the wake of the incident at a Regent Park school," said Father Moloy D'Costa, the general secretary of the Association of Christian Schools.

The Deshapriya Park school has told church officials that CCTV surveillance on the campus had been affected by an electrical fault.


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