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Who are we kidding? Don't snatch freedom in the name of children's safety

Leave those kids alone is the best advice. Since you can't, let us not make jails around them either.

 |  BREAKING NEWS INTO PIECES  |  3-minute read |   19-09-2017
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Every time there is a terrorist attack, we give up a little freedom for a collective safety. I don't remember the last time terrorists entered a shopping mall in India and killed people, but we have all surrendered to mall security guards, who check the car's boot, engine compartment, our bags and bodies.

We are all suspected terrorists and that is normal. Our safety is worth losing a little bit of freedom, isn't it? Who are we kidding? You know the mall security is a load of bull. If someone really intended to, he/she can smuggle in a bag of guns and bombs into a mall pretty easily and kill as many as he/she wants. These guys in uniforms are not really trained in anti-terror safety checks. They are just guys in uniforms. We feel good giving up a little freedom for the greater cause in return for a sense of security, not security.

Parents are rightly horrified at what happened at Ryan International School in Gurgaon. They send their kids to school and trust they will return safe. The collective response, and all natural, is to crack down on schools and reassess security of schoolchildren. The CBSE has been working overtime and issuing guidelines. I see parents on TV debates screaming their lungs out. And some suggestions put forward by parents and security specialists, I am sorry to say, are wacky to say the least.

Pradyumn's neck was knifed in the school washroom and there was no CCTV there. So, one demands CCTV cameras in bathrooms as well. But that's not the only over-reaction.

chidlren690_091917050130.jpgChildren, in urban areas have very little freedom. Their lives are controlled by parents and teachers.

Children, in urban areas as it is have very little freedom. Their lives are controlled by parents and teachers. In some cases, every waking hour is monitored. Now, this one incident will lead to higher walls, more cameras and stricter control over who the children can meet. More children will be educated about not talking to anybody they needn't know. They will be taught to fear people who are not related to them.

Teachers will be wary, parents warier and children more isolated. They will have more internet to make up for real-world interactions. Their play time will shorten and alone time will make up for that. They will have virtual reality to compensate for reality. They will grow up like no other generation has. They will have new complexes and psychiatrists will give them fancy names.

This will make them safe. Who are we kidding? A lone deranged man like Ashok the conductor may still lurk, if not near the school washroom, then the school bus. Nirbhaya's shocking rape and murder led to an outrage and the outrage led to stricter laws. That did not stop rape or murder. Stricter laws, taller walls and wider moats do not guarantee security. The certainty of punishment, whatever that may be, of a crime does. The state has failed to assure that punishment. The society does not believe either.

Religious schools have had a long tradition of sodomising young boys. Popes have come and gone but pupils of Catholic schools world over continue to complain of sexual exploitation. We have had similar cases coming out of schools of other religious denominations. All the efforts have come to naught. Not that there's any official sanction to the dark side of male teachers. But there have been, there are, and there will be sickos around. The state and the society need to put the sickos in jail, instead of creating a jail around their possible victims. The increased security and all-around surveillance of children will hamper their all-round growth. Are we as a society ready to pay a price that steep?

Also read: On demonetisation and GST, Manmohan Singh has the last laugh and not Modi

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Writer

Kamlesh Singh Kamlesh Singh @kamleshksingh

Journalism student. Ed honcho at the India Today Group Mediaplex. God's Loyal Opposition. Useful Warning: Tweets may hurt religious sentiments.

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