Friday, July 13, 2012

Thought for the Day - Our Insensitivity to Children

The case of the warden making a school girl drink her own urine in the Vishva Bharati University, Santiniketan (or lick the soiled bed sheet for medicinal benefits or for superstition or for ridding the child of the bed wetting habit as claimed by authorities) is indicative of the kind of sensitivity we have for our children. Forget the children for a moment - we are really showing ourselves as tortured souls who are devoid of love and good things to share even with children and in our frustration and anger we do things that are as abominable as this.

Of course the most abominable thing about this whole issue was the statement of Swami Agnivesh who said something to the effect of how urine drinking is part of our great heritage and how some great people did drink urine. Swamiji, it does not mean that all of us have to drink urine. Perhaps drinking alcohol, eating meat, and certain other habits could be healthy for some people but we cannot force it on people. Swamiji in fact, in his immense wisdom, felt that since the child was only told to drink and not forced to drink it, she could have refused. Amazing sensitivity again from the learned god man. It is as if she was given a choice on whether she could drink or not drink - I mean, how lucky she was not forced to do it really! Does that not show how concerned we are for her? It is a sign of senility or some weird kind of a belief that makes people like Swami Agnivesh make these ridiculous statements that border on the self-righteous. And you cannot even bring yourself to show some love and compassion to a poor little frightened child - and invest all your sympathies with a middle aged matron who could not think of a better way to deal with a child who is already embarrassed, ashamed and perhaps physically ill. I cannot believe that Swami Agnivesh is not hauled up for his irresponsible and uncalled for statements by the child rights people. Imagine justifying the matron by saying that she did not force the girl!

Add to that is the wonderful 'regret letter' from the Viswa Bharati authorities who named the child thrice in their communication - an offense that is punishable by law under the Juvenile Justice Act. They are running an entire University with this attitude - of first protecting the matron, and then mentioning a ten year old girl thrice in a public release. What are these people made off? Is someone going to punish them or will the poor girl be punished further? Where is the rather vocal Mamta Banerjee who took such offense to the cartoon when such things happen to a child? Is someone going to arrest them for breaking the Juvenile Justice Act or will the 10 year old have to file a complaint?

Take a step back and observe how we scare and frighten the wits out of little children. From our so called humour or play with children where we pinch their cheeks, pull their hair, throw them in the air, block their passage, hold them against their will, to emotional blackmail to real physical abuse that is sadistic - we go the whole range. We cannot call ourselves cultured - any ass who talks of culture here should be kicked where it hurts most. In fact we do what any one would do when we find someone powerless in our hands - we torture, terrify and sadistically hurt them. Watch any adult with a child for five minutes and you will know what I mean. How much love goes in and how much abuse in so many ways (including forcing our opinion on them). But then, sadly, our adults themselves are victims of victims and that is our tragedy.

Dealing with children requires an enormous amount of creativity, empathy and compassion. They are not adults - they are little kids with minds and bodies that are still forming. be gentle with your words, thoughts and acts. Give them a chance fellows. Use your minds and responsibilities better.

I heard this story the other day. A young 5 year old mentioned that she wanted to be a teacher. I said that it is good and that she would make a good teacher. She said that when she became a teacher she would not shout at children. I got curious and asked her what she meant. She said that she heard a teacher tell a student friend of her that if she did not stop chewing on her pencil she would staple her lips. The very thought is almost like some medieval torture. Then, the 5 year old girl continued, the young girl whom the teacher had threatened was scared. She could have told the young girl not to chew on the pencil and that it would give her a stomach ache, said the 5 year old. Then she would understand would she not and stop chewing the pencil. Why scare her?

A good reason for the young 5 year old to become a teacher. She will probably be more compassionate to children than the current one. And hopefully create a better world. Meanwhile, watch yourself when you are with a child next. Give them love. Else get out of the picture. They can do very well without you.

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