At least one schoolboy has been arrested and more than 20 others are being probed in connection with a social media scandal following widespread outrage over circulating screenshots of sexually charged remarks and morphed photographs of several girls.
The revelation that publicly available images of schoolgirls on social media were being morphed and circulated by boys of their age has come as a shock to educationists, more so at a time children have been in greater proximity to parents because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
While the comments can still be read, the pictures have since been blacked out.
“The concerned platform, i.e. Instagram, has been asked to provide the details of the alleged accounts involved in the group. The details are awaited. As of now, about 10 members of the group have been identified,” Delhi police said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The identified members who are major, are being examined. The minor members of the group are being dealt with as per the provisions of (the) Juvenile Justice Act. The devices used to engage in the offensive, vulgar communication have been seized from the identified group members.”
The students belong to at least four schools in Delhi.
The screenshots of the remarks and explicit morphed images from an Instagram group called Bois Locker Room had gone viral on Monday. The police filed an FIR after taking cognisance of what was being circulated online. A school and a parent have also approached the cops, as have independent Internet researchers.
Veteran educationist Ameeta Mulla Wattal, principal, Springdales School, said the case was a “comment on our times”. “In spite of being in such proximity to parents during the lockdown, if their children could participate in such a group, then it reveals a deep parenting divide,” she told The Telegraph.
None of the accused study in Springdales.
Savita Malhotra, author of several textbooks on child psychiatry, said the sense of anonymity the Internet provides, as well as lack of inhibitors like moral values or fear of punishment, could lead adolescents to participate in such peer-group offences.
“The complete ability of judgement fully develops in one’s brain at around 25 years. Till then, actions are governed by rules, discipline or internal values one has learned from parents, the environment around you, or school,” the former head of psychiatry and dean of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, explained.
“Upbringing or moral values cannot begin at 15. It has to begin at eight.”