Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Whose fault is it anyway?

Two third-standard boys picked up a wire from the ground, tied it around the neck of their classmate and strangled him to death. All over a pencil.

These were the opening lines of an article on the front page of the Bangalore edition of Times of India last Saturday. Apart from the shock, the first thing that crossed my mind was how could this have been averted. Who can be held responsible for this young life coming to an untimely end? Is a human life’s worth less than that of a pencil?

The boys subsequently told the police that they didn’t realize what they were doing.

The boys would have seen this in some movie and had tried to imitate that without having any clue about the consequence of their act. This is similar to children trying out moves out of WWF and TNA shows, and imitating Spiderman and Superman, and even the desi Shaktiman. The inspiration for the act would have been some action sequence the twelve- and the nine-year olds would have seen on TV or a movie. They knew this would hurt, but did not know it could lead to death.

This would have happened at such a normal occasion that none of the school authorities would have paid attention—children do quarrel over small things, but who would have imagined someone getting killed in the process?

Children learn from every incident, every visual, and every sound they encounter, see, and hear. There is no way we can stop any of those. We cannot prevent children from watching TV; banning all forms of violence on screen is not feasible either. Parents cannot, and should not, censor absolutely everything their children watch and talk about. Keeping a check on all forms of tiffs between children is also not possible.

It is not necessary to put someone at fault but there is something that is not right somewhere. Imagine the plight of the three-years elder brother of the 9-year old victim, who went to rescue him seeing him fighting, only to see him collapse to death when they reached home.

Whose fault is it? Is there anything we (read anyone) can do to prevent such losses?

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