Dynamics of reprehensible violence in private schools
SHAMEFUL incident of a girl being beaten by her fellow students at a so-called haut monde school in Lahore remained a top story in news and its videos, a major trend on social media in the last couple of weeks. Just a few days later, a similar incident in other aristocratic schools in Defence Lahore erased the images of the Scarsdale School episode. As per instagram, a group of boys belonging to superlative elite-class from ISL, Aitcheson and Learning Alliance raided LGS Phase-V and demanded to hand over a boy from that school due to a conflict which they had earlier in a café near their schools. They tried to assault the school guard and threw traffic cones over the walls of the school, one of which hit the school principal on her head.
The boys from LGS Phase V created the same brawl outside ISL, the very next day. Some parents waiting to pick their kids informed the police and a few boys were arrested. The events followed by the arrest concluded on the same end as Scarsdale School. In the same week a private school in Karachi came under limelight, when a teacher painted the face of a student with black ink for speaking Urdu in the school premises. The story does not end here. The teacher further asked the co-students to ridicule that poor Urdu speaking girl, adding insult to injury.
The intransigent response of school management is another point to mention in this regard. This very instance blatantly indicates the value system, these so-called educational institutions or more appropriately business enterprises are giving to our children. The rampant drug culture that goes without checking, coupled with indifference of parents leaving their children at the mercy of digital devices and violent online games instead of giving them quality family time has a lot to contribute in this regard. The question here is, if the parents and teachers are not responsible for inculcating ethical and moral values in their children, who else has the onus for it?
A considerable number of Pakistani teenagers are either victims or are perpetrators of physical or mental abuse in the schools and the rest are a witness. Yet, this has been a phenomenon in the schools of lower strata of population where poverty related problems cause stress and aggression among the teens in the South Asian countries like Pakistan. However, the vehemence in the private schools is a newfound phenomenon or possibly, social media has facilitated its reporting. This growing violence and bullying must send a shock wave among the parents of teenage children from upper middle class, studying in similar schools. This definitely is a cause of anxiety for those who have cut down on their luxuries as well as necessities to send their children to private schools in quest for better education in today’s competitive environment.
Aggression and psychosocial maladjustments among adolescent boys is not a novel thing and is common all over the world though one cannot justify it. Yet, the incident of Scarsdale school indicates that children of so-called elite schools, irrespective of gender, are heading towards afflictive emotions to an alarming scale. Violence among the juvenile students is the upcoming menace threatening the welfare and peace of our society. It is astounding that such incidents are on a rise constantly and the background story of all these incidents and events that take place afterwards are all the more depressing as they all are related to the “powerful and unbeatable elite” of our society.
The incidents mentioned above are just a tip of the iceberg. Yet, they blatantly indicate the culture of these institutions. The schools’ administration in all these cases managed to cover it up under “Adolescent Rage”. The girl in Scarsdale School was beaten up for good forty five minutes, the students around managed to make video clips but school management didn’t even dare to stop all that. This whole event speaks volumes about the support such children have at their back. This episode also reminds of the Shahrukh Jatoi case where he ended up killing a youngster. The recent acquittal given to him and the victory sign he made on his release is a sign of impunity enjoyed by this class.
This calls for an urgent intervention at state level without which substantial improvement cannot be expected. Mandatory drug testing as well as certified Anger Management programmes on a school-wide basis may be a first step to curtail this growing menace. Media has to play its role as well. The drama serial “Pinjra” being aired these days has highlighted similar issues. The writer of the serial deserves appreciation for bringing multiple such issues to the spotlight. Last but not the least, parents have to become more vigilant about the activities of their children in and outside home.
—The writer holds Masters Degrees in Business Administration and Media Studies from the UK with a special interest in social issues.