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Bengal: Violence in schools on rise after pandemic, say teachers

Bengal: Violence in schools on rise after pandemic, say teachers

August 22, 2022
Mita Mukherjee

The authorities of a state-aided coeducational school in the northern fringe of Kolkata recently expelled five Class XII students, three girls and two boys, after a video purportedly showing two male students in compromising positions with their female classmates went viral on social media.

Two boys were seen huddled together with their girlfriends at the back of the classroom allegedly during tiffin break. A fellow girl student had taken a video of this and the clip was shared on social media. The video created a shock among parents who came down with sharp criticisms against the school for allowing students to stay inside the classrooms during the break without maintaining adequate vigil on them.

The headmaster of the school had summoned all the five students. When they were asked to explain their actions they admitted the pictures were theirs but said “it was only a joke.” Carrying cell phones to school is strictly prohibited in all state-funded schools in Bengal. But the students had no answer for violating this rule.

However, the management later decided to expel all the five students.

In another state-aided school at Baruipur in the southern fringe of the city students of senior classes were found smoking and drinking inside classrooms, misbehaving with girl students and fighting amongst themselves on campus.

In yet another government-funded school in north Kolkata, a Class VIII student was caught while he was about to hurt a Class V boy of the same school with a broken blade inside the campus.

Such incidents of violence and indecent acts by students are being reported from many schools across the state on a regular basis, according to many schools. The trend is new and being noticed since the schools had reopened for in-person classes after their long closure due to the pandemic.

State-aided schools in Bengal mainly cater to students coming from middle class and lower middle income group families and most of them have experienced anxiety, grief for losing their dear ones, depression and financial constraints in the family during the pandemic, the schools say.

Such experiences have resulted into the increasing violence, disruptive behavior and bullying among adolescent students, according to the schools.   

“Our school is 63 years old but we never had to expel students for such a reason. The trend is increasing and we are planning to focus on mental health and well- being of our students. We need a comprehensive plan to change this trend because though the pandemic has subsided, its mental health effects on young students will remain longer,”  Soumen Pal, the headmaster of the school where five students have been expelled, told EducationWorld.

Swagata Basu, general secretary of West Bengal Government School Teachers’ Association, an organization of schools run directly by the state school education department, said incidents of violence, bullying and ragging are now reported from almost every school. Academic activities are getting disrupted regularly because teachers are required to spend a lot of time settling issues related to disruptive behavior of students.

“ Most students of the government schools had suffered to some degree in the pandemic. Many of them could not attend the online classes properly for not having a smart device at home. Several students were not able to express their anxiety and fear during the closure. After the reopening of the schools, these students are behaving in a different way now because they are feeling the pressure of the studies too great,” Basu told EducationWorld.

Also Read:West Bengal: Rising disenchantment

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