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The 21st century is considered to be the most progressive stage for our society, marked by digitization and globalization. However, we seem to be in the most regressive times with respect to the safety and security of our children.
Child abuse has many forms: physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, and exploitation. Any of these that are potentially or actually harmful to a child’s health, survival, dignity, and development, is considered abuse as per W.H.O.
The trauma associated with abuse can contribute to arrested development, as well as a host of psychological and emotional disorders, that some children and adolescents may never overcome.
Abuse & Harassment comes in various forms on school campuses: Students are made fun of, bullied, teased, insulted, beaten, molested, and ridiculed, besides physical fights.
Our newspapers are full of reports of various forms of abuse of children in schools at the hand of students, principals, teachers, and support staff.
To cite a few:
Safety lies as a fundamental right at the heart of a progressive and developed society marked by lack of fear around one’s life & property. If I look at my education 10 years back, I am unable to find any incident where I felt fearful in school premises. However, today, when you are looking to put your two-year-old child in school, you have to extremely concerned about his/her safety.
After every harassment incident, CBSE issues or revise safety guidelines for school. But is it sufficient to solve the problem? Not really.
We need to understand that these predators that identify children as easy targets are serious offenders, whose behavior is driven by their dark personality trait. Preventing distressing incidents such as harassment, school shootings, favoritism, or profiteering requires a shift towards ‘Personality Trait’ based hiring & regular assessment of school staff & children.
Dark personality traits are steady and stable characteristics of a person that if triggered, lead to the display of undesirable, counterproductive and destructive behavior, which has a negative impact on the surrounding people (friends, family, coworkers, and customers).
The given three traits combined are called dark traits:
We need to ensure that we make Dark Trait assessments mandatory for all job positions dealing with children in schools, daycare, activity centers & juvenile homes.
‘Dark Traits’ is the common name for the mixture of three personality traits that, when combined, make a person capable of being incredibly evil without having any compassion for others. The things that a person can do, when they have extreme expressions of dark triad personality type, are horrific when compared to normal average human behavior. A person with severe dark triad traits can commit crimes, kidnap, torture, and kill people, showing absolutely no remorse whatsoever for any acts they have done.
We need to make it mandatory to administer and test all the staff involved with children on dark traits. A school would not want to hire a driver who scores high on Thrill seeking dimension of dark trait for the children.
Trait focused hiring of teachers & staff will help us prevent & reduce the cases of abuse, harassment, and bullying at school. It will also help establish role models which help student channelize their negative traits into a positive manner.
Use dark traits understanding to identify kids who might need coaching or help in managing their behavior. The early knowledge of these traits will help us shape students into good human beings that will use their personality traits for societal well-being. Experts said rampant harassment on campuses underlines the lack of social and emotional learning in Indian schools.
There is a need to focus on value & community service based education. Schools and teachers have the power of developing strong personalities who would then be capable of taking the reins of the nation’s growth in their hand through service. School is the second home for any child, and we need to ensure that our children are safe, secure & fearless in their second home. Ensuring student safety by making safe schools a reality is the need of the hour. Hyderabad Public School which boasts of alumni like Satya Nadela, Harsha Bhogle, Karan Bilimoria, Kiran Kumar Reddy, Jaideep Gupta is one such great example of how schools which create a safe and growth conducive environment can nurture global talent.
Originally published April 24 2018, Updated August 21 2020