Monday, August 08, 2016

Student Heros' - Dangerous stunts on trains

I had to travel from Thiruvanmiyur to Mylapore by train this morning around 8.00am. In all subsequent platform from Thiruvanmiyur till Mylapore, I noticed a small group of boys aged between 12 years to 17 years, run along the train to get on it, about 4 children per opening. It was quite frightening to see a competition among them as to who would last longer as the running train gathered more and more speed. In my compartment, one boy’s hand was in a sling and he was doing this dangerous stunt.

I requested the boys not to do that as the risked their live every time. I told them, if they were grievously hurt, losing their limbs forever, it was much more a negative impact on their very lives as they had to live many more years to come without them. I told them death was the easiest of all, but have they thought about their parents who struggled so hard for them to study. Some older boys in same school, who were snickering, I had asked them to advice younger ones.  They replied to me that those kids do not listen to them, but I told them to make a strong point and impression on their younger school mates. I asked them the school and understood, they belonged to a famous school on R.K.Mutt Road.

On getting down at Mylapore station, I went to the station master to request him for a solution, but all I received were complaints and they were trying their best. The station master mentioned that the children had been caught, and the school had been made aware, but it has not helped. They had also handed over some repeated offenders to police but as they were juvenile, no cases were registered and they were let go. They asked me to approach the school.

 I went to the school on R.K.Mutt Road. As the prayers were being done, I was asked to wait. I met the social sciences teacher Mr.R, to whom I mentioned what I had seen. Many students’ railway passes were cancelled when they had been caught, but the students had got themselves regular railway passes to student passes and still indulged in dangerous stunts. Once, when Mr.R had once informed a group of students not to do the stunt, he was asked by a fellow passenger as to what bothered him. When Mr.R mentioned he was a school teacher for that boy, that fellow passenger informed Mr.R to not bother the boy and keep it to the school only. What sort of society are we in, where a teacher who wishes well for his students is asked to shut up?

Mr.R then accompanied me to the principal’s office, where I updated him of this morning incidents. The Principal mentioned he had caught 2 such students belonging to his school a couple of days back. The parents of such students to meet were asked to meet the principal and provide letters of apologies that it would not happen again. Sometimes, where the parents are called, the parents deny flatly that their wards were even capable of what the Principal mentioned and out rightly denied. Any warning does not have a permanent affect and may only affect a small part of the population. The other students still continue their dangerous stunts.

I understand that a long drawn plan which can hit at the root cause of the problem will be one of the best ways to resolve them. I have noticed that none of the girls do any such stunts.
Movies teach stunts. By performing a stunt, the young boy student feels the following:
(i)                  I am a hero. I can face danger and do danger. I am the best.
(ii)                I can impress other students (boys) that I am willing to take risk with my life. You all should look at me as a hero.
(iii)               I can impress other girl students and be a hero.
The hero culture of risk taking need a root cause analysis and a handling at the very root of the problem. My suggestion to the Principal was the following.
  1. Please have an inter-school competition for this age group of boys & girls.
  2. Topic: Dangers of stunts on trains and buses.
  3. Select about 20 students, who have done an outstanding essay. Idea is one boy and 1 girl per month for entire school duration of 10 months.
  4. 1 boy and 1 girl speak every 15 days at a school prayer for 5 minutes.
  5. Coach these students with the final presentation to the entire schools. (I volunteer myself, and other who desire to help)
  6. The students present to their peers on the dangers.
  7. Set up anonymous help line to students to report any dangers seen.

I have suggested some long term plans to the Principal, which he mentioned he would discuss and get back. I have also informed that I will help in whatever little ways that I can, to create a positive impression on the students’ minds. We need to tackle all the student community against this dangerous practice and not just this school.
Idea is for the students to understand danger and opt out of it voluntarily in a peaceful manner. I feel students should not be threatened into submission. A threat of a TC, punishment or dismissal from school, or any punishment by a policeman or any other is not a good direction, as not all will be threatened by such an act.
A TC from the school, I feel serves no purpose. It is a means of the school establishment saying that is not my problem and the problem will still continue in another school. Worse, the student may lapse into bad habits or bad company.
Any physical punishment is also temporary, how will it really make the student understand the act of stunts is not correct?

Please spread the word, and if you see any student doing stunts, please ask them to stop. Collectively, we can make an impact. I please welcome your comments, where we can seek a permanent solution in a constructive manner to the next generation.