Schools do more than just disseminate textbook knowledge and administer exams — they also play a vital role in the psychological, social, and emotional wellbeing of a child.
But unfortunately, many schools in Bangladesh fail to provide a healthy atmosphere conducive to the growth of a child; in fact, physical violence against children is not uncommon in many school environments, whether from peers or from teachers.
A Unicef report shows that some 35% of students between the ages of 13 and 15 have been bullied one or more days in the last 30 days, or have been involved in a physical fight.
Violence in schools, as bullying or in some other form, has long term repercussions that may not be obvious immediately.
As Unicef Executive Director Herietta Fore has said, “in the short-term, this impacts their learning, and in the long-term, it can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide.”
It is the duty of a school to keep children safe, and it is a sad commentary when the school itself becomes a place of violence, threats, and intimidation.
What needs to change is the culture in classrooms — violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault need to be seen as completely unacceptable, and children who complain they have been victimized need to be heard.
Today’s children grow up to be tomorrow’s adults, and the patterns of behaviour they learn at a young age will play a part in them becoming conscious, socially responsible citizens who can drive this country forward.
Let us give them the nurturing environment they need.