When a student threatens teacher with rape and another wants sex
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When a student threatens teacher with rape and another wants sex

It is no longer an aberration. The frequency with which children in our schools are intimidating their teachers and friends with violence is downright scary. When a student threatens his teacher with rape on Instagram, it is perhaps the final wake-up call. The ugly cocktail of new money, social media and privileged upbringing has assumed a life of its own.

While a student of about 13 sent his teacher and her daughter a public rape threat, another colleague just a year older was busy asking his teacher out on a candlelight date with an invitation for sex. Even if you excuse the latter saying he could have been fashionably playing at being an adult in a world where your cocky attitude gets you the tag of the popular boy in class, even insinuating rape is a whole different aggression. Imagine how badly our parenting has failed if, for children around us, the implications of something as heinous no longer acts as a deterrent.

In October last year a boy stabbed his math teacher ten times at a school because he didn’t get good marks. It is becoming as simple as that. The minor who is now accused of murdering 7-year-old Pradyuman Thakur at Ryan International school reportedly researched different types of poison and how to remove fingerprints without arousing suspicion at home. Despite living with his family, he managed to keep his behavioural changes out of the radar and that is the biggest slap on our faces. His parents probably indulged his every whim, his demands for new video games, never realising what they were doing.

When children think it’s the norm to be surrounded by gadgets, when they don’t know the meaning of tough love, the blame on incidents, however horrific, rests solely on their parents. Children react to the environment that they are brought up in. Acts of hostility and belligerence by children are possible either because they witness brutality first hand, watch violence without any checks or are starved of attention.

I often hear that teachers at senior schools are scared of handling older children. They think twice before scolding a child who is in the wrong because the culture today is to make our children sensitive and protect them. Parents will storm the school if someone so much as raises a voice against their child because when you bring up children without giving them the time they deserve it’s just convenient to keep defending them. If that fails, the other new age parenting tip automatically kicks in, to substitute love with material things or just plain old money.

Today, for a good part of the society, if a child doesn’t have his own cell phone or iPad he or she is the odd-one-out.

No one monitors them, they have unrestricted access to YouTube or any other videos that glorify violence. Fake accounts or even fudging their age on Facebook is all one big joke. My daughter recently came home upset because I told a parent how she had very limited access to gadgets but when her friends heard of this, they made her a laughing stock.

So, she says do what you have to but please keep up the façade. It’s a long battle but only those parents who can cut through the freezing layer of peer pressure and not give in will raise children, the rest are raising clones.

To blame the school for our children’s actions would be, in most instances, simply shifting the blame. But they do have a responsibility and sometimes err in taking disciplinary action because we force their hand, at other times they shy away from the attention.

For instance, the Gurgaon schools where the rape threat was issued owed it to the distraught teacher and her daughter to be more proactive. From what we hear, the girl who was in the same class as the boy who made the threats is so traumatised that she refuses to go back to school.

If the school can’t respect its teachers, it is foolish to expect their students to do so. Simply suspending the boy for a month solves nothing.

No one said parenting was going to be a cakewalk, but by taking the easy way out we are depriving our children of their childhood. Our carelessness has robbed them of the experience of “growing up”. Instead, they are already thinking like adults and in the bargain become monster-children. And if we shake our heads and share how “in our times” things were different, we are only burying our heads in the sand.

The shock is no longer the aggression of our children, what is frightening is the impunity with which the incidents continue to take place. Emotionally starved children are now the kings of the cyber world where they can be who they want themselves to be, the poor little rich boy who has no real friends but lives online, trusting his makebelieve world. When sensitive children have no way to vent, no person to pour their frustrations out to, they take shelter in what they can find, even if it means building a false persona online as long as it gives them confidence.

A new phenomenon in schools is to have counsellors and that perhaps is the most telling fact. They are in demand only because we as families have started outsourcing our one big job, looking after our child. But how much can a stranger help when we need to step up at home and simply monitor our children?

Today, a boy who is barely a teenager has threatened his teacher with rape. In place of respect there is violence and tolerance only for “my way or the highway”. There may be many others who have the same brutal streak because frankly we don’t even know our children anymore. This may be our lost generation but the blame is not theirs.