Teachers shape the life of their students to a great extent. Their role doesn’t end at teaching the students whatever is written in the textbooks. Rather, they also impart important lessons about life and the whole, wide world. But, can certain behaviors of these very teachers make their students commit suicide?
When punishment turns into harassment
12-year-old Navneet Prakash of class 5 from St. Anthony’s Convent School (Gorakhpur, UP) succumbed to his suicide attempt. He had consumed poison, and passed away in BRD Medical College on the 20th of September, 2017.
His suicide note proves that he took such a drastic step because his class teacher used to punish him very often. She used to make him stand for many consecutive periods. Even his tears wouldn’t cause her to relent. Navneet further stated that she repeated the same behavior on the day of his first examination just because certain sycophants had convinced her to do so.
Navneet’s last wish says, “Please ask my teacher to not punish anyone so severely.”
What is harassment?
Harassment refers to any behavior that is disturbing, offensive, humiliating and repetitive in nature.
In this case, the class teacher’s punishment had turned into harassment for Navneet because it was happening again and again. It was also causing humiliation and distress to the student. Furthermore, the punishment was not stopping in spite of the child showing clear signs of distress, like crying. Lastly, it seemed to be happening for no actual fault of the child.
What effect can punishment have on students?
Punishments are basically a negative or unwanted situation that students are made to endure so that any undesirable behaviour is reduced in frequency until it stops completely.
In this case, making Navneet stand for hours together was a form of punishment. However, such punishments tend to have various negative effects on students. The list includes:-
- The students never learn why they are being punished or what their fault was.
- They may become fearful for their safety, privileges, possessions etc.
- Such students might become fearful of authority figures or elders.
- They experience a lot of humiliation and distress during the process of punishment.
- Their self-esteem and confidence is lowered.
- They become prone to Anxiety Disorders and Depression.
- Such punishments can result in Psychological abuse which can lead to trauma and poor mental health.
- Punishments have a negative impact on a child’s learning and memory among other mental faculties.
- Such an experience can lead to a reduction in one’s curiosity, attachment, enthusiasm, emotional stability, and independence.
- On the other hand, punishments can make the students more hostile, passive-aggressive and unresponsive to others.
- The child might lose his friends due to a deterioration of social image. This can lead to isolation.
- The distress and trauma thus experienced might become overwhelming for the students- particularly if the punishment is very severe and repetitive in nature. It seems inescapable. In such a scenario, a student might resort to self-harm and suicide.
The punishments of a teacher in one’s school can easily turn into harassment. This will cause a student to experience emotional abuse and trauma. Such experiences can yield a variety of results ranging from distress and detachment to chronic Depression, self-harm and attempts to commit suicide.
Any child, including yours, can be experiencing punishments of this kind which leave him scared and distressed. If you feel your child is facing something similar, connect them to a mental health professional from Mind Solace and provide them the professional help they will need to deal with the effects of such punishments.