Picture this: You see a boy and girl hugging for a ‘long time’ in school. You think it’s inappropriate.
You ask the students to disengage. The boy refuses.
You get enraged at this open act of defiance. You warn them and demand a written apology. Despite both actions, you suspend them.
Students admonished for such behaviour usually internalise the blame and are desperate to make it a distant memory so that they can make it to that gleaming prize on the horizon: the 12th Board Exams.
What the school didn’t take into account is the spirited fight that the young student gave.
The suspended student approached the Child Rights Commission which overturned the suspension. The school then approached the Kerala High Court which ruled that the suspension stands.
Can you imagine – students’ school suspension reaching the Kerala High Court.
And while it isn’t everyday that such cases arise, it is commonplace for students to be subjected to moral policing.
You may ask: why not? Aren’t schools supposed to enforce discipline and guide students?
Yes they do, and they are well within their rights to. But here’s how not to go about it.
How Not To Discipline Students
You DON’T hound teenagers and call them ‘animals in heat’
You DON’T intrude into their private space, using Instagram pictures as proof of ‘depravity’. Colleges/schools have a say about a student’s conduct while ON CAMPUS, not over their personal lives.
You DON’T start a campaign to berate the moral character of young adults.
You DON’T slut shame students and use your collective authority to shut down dissent.
What Schools Should Do Instead
Now picture this: You see a boy and girl hugging, you think it’s inappropriate.
You ask the students to meet you in private, both of them, together – to ensure that the same moral guidelines are applied to both girls AND boys.
You explain to them why you think it’s inappropriate.
You allow them to explain themselves and hear out their questions, if any.
You speak in a non-threatening manner and end things there.
You check in with the concerned students periodically and speak to them again, if necessary.
You will not be seen as weak, if you employ kindness & maturity over draconian measures. A change in approach can go a long way.