'Teacher holds unimaginable power on student'

'Teacher holds unimaginable power on student'

Corporal punishment, bullying, child sexual abuse and sexuality in adolescence are some of the emerging challenges the present day principals of schools have to tackle, according to Dr Shekhar Seshadri, a child psychiatrist with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans).

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Emerging Challenges for Today’s School Principals’ organised by Deccan Herald in Education (DHiE) in Bengaluru on Saturday, Dr Seshadri said the basic premises of what a school should be would help to correct misconceptions on corporal punishment, attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder, sexuality and child sexual abuse.

“A student’s universe is unique and ridden with limitations, too. Are we addressing the child’s issues with insight? The power that a teacher has on the life of a child is unimaginable. Difficult children may be in difficult situations, so the conversation between the student and teacher is of great importance,” he said. Dr Seshadri said corporal punishment includes slapping, standing on a bench, kicking, mental harassment and discrimination like sarcasm, among other things. Such punishment increases aggressive behaviour in a child. The best response, he said, is a conversation with the child.

A UGC panel found that a large percentage of children are bullied in schools. A new form is emerging which is of great concern - cyber bullying. A policy and a students’ body are helpful, he suggested. He advocated a ‘proactive and enabling’ approach by schools in dealing with students’ problems.

Dr Seshadri asked principals to leave their comfort zones. “Provide a framework. Perspective building is important. Acknowledge a child’s needs, provide information, consider consequences, boundaries,” he suggested.

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