Chennai: The macabre incident of a 15-year school boy stabbing his teacher to death in one of the oldest schools in Chennai has sent shockwaves among teachers, parents and students.
However, the consoling fact is that no such incident has been reported for several years in the past although there have been cases of attacks by parents on teachers. Education specialists warned against jumping into premature-conclusions over a stray incident.
A disturbing trend, though, is the increasing incidence of juvenile delinquency. This could be a case of a such an incident where the scene of crime happened to be a school and the target, a teacher.
The incident was the talk of the city on Thursday ever since TV channels started beaming visuals from the spot in the afternoon. Police as well as media reports said that the boy, a ninth standard student, came armed with a knife to the class to attack the teacher as he was upset about her remarks in his progress report. By around 11 am, when the woman-teacher, 39-year old Uma Maheswari, who taught Hindi and science, appeared free, he attacked her with the knife on her neck, stomach and back. She was immediately rushed to a hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.
The boy, who reportedly tried to escape and hide in a bathroom, was overpowered by other students and the school authorities and was handed over to the police. According to the school authorities, he was upset that the teacher had warned his parents about his bad performance in studies. He was regular in his class, but not a smart student.
The St Mary’s Anglo India School, where the incident occurred catered to the local children near a crowded Armenian Street in the old commercial capital of the city, opposite to the High Court.
“We cannot deduce any trend from such a stray incident,” said an educational specialist handling campus interface for a leading IT company. “There is always tension between teachers and students and it should be managed well. These days the teachers know how to handle it. Perhaps this incident is a just a warning on the need for identifying early warning signs and appropriate interventions.”
There have been cases in the city and elsewhere in the state where parents have manhandled teachers on issues such as fees, quality of education and even handling of their wards.
Is it a warning on the plunging respect for teachers among students? Or the growing mistrust between educational institutions and students/parents? Criminality among students? Bad parenting? Not sure and too premature to say.
This is not Bowling for Columbine either.
However, it’s definitely a warning that signs of delinquency need to be identified and redressed early. It just cannot happen in a socio-economic and cultural vacuum.