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article imageOp-Ed: Stringent laws against bullying needed in India

By Ajit Jha     Nov 14, 2013 in Lifestyle
While bullying is a universal concern, it is especially acute in India. The latest victim of school bullying is Oindrilla Das of Calcutta.
This 11 year old kid suffered a severe trauma as she was locked inside a toilet after school hours. Oindrilla Das could not survive the trauma.
Oindrilla Das is just a symptom of the malaise that inflicts nearly all schools in India, where bullying is not a serious offense.
Bullying can take several forms including sexual harassment, name calling, abusing, assaulting, pushing, hitting, stealing or damaging other students’ possessions, threatening and badgering for money. According to some recent cases in the U.S, parents of children who are sexually harassed in schools can take the school districts to court if, “The harassment was so acute, inescapable and abhorrent that the educational opportunities provided by the school could not be availed” or “if the situation was intentionally disregarded”.
There are hundreds of cases of bullying in India, most of which go unreported. In Calcutta, a class VIII child studying in a reputable school complained last month that he was sexually assaulted. The child’s mother complained to the school authorities but was not sure of the action they might take. Another school kid was forced to drink urine. According to reports, not just Oindrila Das of Christ Church Girls' High School, but hundreds of thousands of other kids are bullied every day in India. “If proper steps are not taken at the earliest, many more students may suffer the same tragic end in near future,” according to the Times of India.
Oindrila’s grandfather, Niranjan Das has made an emotional appeal to the human rights commission, while calling for strict monitoring in schools to prevent the repeat of similar incidents, according to the Times of India.
While bullying is a global phenomenon in schools, some schools like those in Amherst County have taken strong measures against bullying. Schools in India can take lessons from Amherst County schools with zero tolerance against bullying. According to Superintendent Steven Nichols, “I would think the watch-word in Amherst is that we don’t tolerate it and when we uncover it we act quickly and try to resolve it as quickly as possible.”
Despite several cases of bully victims either succumbing to injuries or surviving with deformities, the authorities in India are yet to take strong measures against bullying in schools. While Indian media have highlighted the issues involved in bullying, their prescription, “Bully-proof” your child is utterly weak. Moreover, most cases of bullying go unreported, according to a survey in Mumbai conducted by the Parents Teachers Association United Forum (PTAUF). Only 20 to 40 percent students of about 70 percent, who experience bullying, actually report it.
Schools in India, rarely if ever, have anything to write on bullying in their code of conduct for students. All they have to say is that students are expected to follow the rules and regulations of the school and are expected to maintain discipline in school. In other words, there is no mention of specific threats against acts of bullying.
While there are laws against workplace harassment and sexual abuse in India, there are no specific laws dealing exclusively with bullying in schools.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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