Word on the street: Schools, discipline and child rights

October 09, 2017

Public opinion on the streets of Muscat.

Is it okay for a school teacher to force a child to remove all her clothes - in the name of a search and without informing her parents? What would you do if such a thing happened to your child?

Maimoona Ghazanfar, Teacher

It is not just excessively intrusive but it is highly unacceptable to tell someone to strip whether or not they have been accused of stealing. It is your responsibility to take care of your things. If this had happened to my child, I would demand strict action. A mere apology is not enough for the public humiliation and the psychological trauma caused by such incidents.

Mohammad Qais. Teacher

 This is a legal matter and the school should have considered all aspects before doing such things. Strict action should be taken against the teacher involved. Also, teachers need to be trained on how to deal with such situations.

Nadia S Khan, Teacher

Stripping children to discipline or search them is totally unacceptable. Also, parents should ensure that students do not carry huge amounts of money to school. Even if they do, the child should be capable enough to take care of it. If this happens to my child, I would ensure that the school is taken to task for it.

Sanjay Dalal, Doctor

A search done without any criminal intent is fair. Everyone across the globe goes through immigration checks without any complaint because they know it is for the safety of everyone. Similarly, in case of a theft in an office or any other premise. There is nothing wrong in checking but I object if it is conducted indecently.

Faisal Nawaz, Entrepreneur

There is no such policy in any school to strip and search. It can only be done by authorities who are not involved in the case and they too require a special warrant to do so. The act clearly would have humiliated the students which will not only bring down their confidence but also affect them mentally. It is not the fault of an institution but staff negligence. Strict action should be taken against those involved. If it had happened to my child I would have reported to the ROP and the Ministry of Education, if the school did not take action. I would not let anyone humiliate my child in such a manner.

Do you think that schools need to do more to prevent child abuse, especially when handling cases involving disciplinary problems?

Mohammed al Amiri, Financial specialist

It is important that authorities keep a tab on schools and monitor them to see that rights of children are not violated. Oman has very few child rights violation cases. The Ministry of Education in Oman has many controls in place to safeguard child rights and prevent verbal or physical abuse against them.

Majid al Busaidi, Student

Oman's schools respect children's rights and both teachers and students are committed to each other. A teacher-student relationship in our country is of mutual respect.

Jokha al Farsi, Government employee

 We need more laws to see that children's rights in our schools are not violated. I believe responsible authorities are taking all measures to achieve this goal.

Ismail al Shayadi, Teacher

Schools should ensure that children are away from any danger. However, I think schools also need the cooperation of parents in this regard. Schools should install security cameras inside its premises and keep a watch to ensure no child is subjected to abuse of any kind.

Nadeesha de Silva, Managing director

 I firmly believe that schools can do a lot in this regard. It is the responsibility of schools to educate both children and parents about their rights and ensure there are no violations. Ignorance often leads to blame games and creates crisis.

Should senior school administrators be held legally accountable if they do not take immediate action in cases involving child abuse by school employees once a case is brought to their notice?

Salim Khalfan. Engineer

School management should take action against the teachers. The school board should also discuss the issue and take steps to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

Shafaque Ahsan, Director

The school administrators should be held accountable for this incident and they should be punished according to the law. Ignoring a crime is equivalent to committing a crime. As parents, we consider school and home to be safe places for our children. For children, teachers are role models.

Elthon Tacalan, Store manager

Complaints like child abuse in schools are serious matters that warrant immediate action. It is necessary that the accused undergoes psychiatric treatment to understand the root cause of such abusive behaviour. If no action is taken by the school, it is necessary to report it to the ROP so that legal action can be taken.

Issac John, Sales manager

Children are our future. Once their morale is shattered they may become criminals tomorrow. Such cases need to be handled with wisdom and commonsense. The incident at the school may have traumatised many children who did not have anything to do with the theft. Such incidents are against the ethics of a civilised community.

Harris Perinbam, Business development manager

Education is the foundation of life and school is as important as home. Schools are responsible to groom students who go on to become fine individuals. Teachers play a big part. Child abuse in school should not be tolerated and whoever is involved should be penalised for their actions.

Q4. Should it be mandatory for a school to let parents/guardians know immediately in cases where their child will be expelled or suspended from school for a serious disciplinary matter?

Ahmad al Asaker, Manager

If it is a serious matter, the first people to be informed or taken into confidence should be parents. It would be wrong on the school's part to unilaterally take action and not tell parents about the wrongdoings of the student in question.

Priya Thobde, Homemaker

Parents should be informed and involved in whatever the school plans to do in advance. Every parent wants their children to grow up to be responsible and morally upright. When children make mistakes, parents should know about them so that they can help rectify these.

Sarika Santosh Bahirat, Homemaker

 Discipline is the pillar of a successful career and life. Punishment given for breach of discipline will make children aware of their mistakes. So, I believe schools have the right to take action against a child even before informing the parents.

Mohammad Rahim

Sales employee There is no doubt that parents have to be involved before the school takes any correctional measure against a student. I think that is the norm followed everywhere, and if it is not done that way, school authorities should be penalised.

Mona Gaur Pruthi, Quality manager

Parents must be informed by the school prior to any action against their children. Firstly, because they have the right to know if their son or daughter has been involved in a serious breach of discipline. Secondly, if parents are involved in the initial stages, they can help teachers find a solution to the child's problem rather than indulging in blame games later.