THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The death of a girl student, who jumped from the third floor of her school building in Kollam, could be attributed to the lack of proper understanding of adolescent psychology on the part of the teachers and school authorities, experts pointed out.
According to reports, the Class X student was severely admonished by a group of teachers for speaking up against the punishment meted out to her younger sister, a student of the same school. Constant taunting by other schoolchildren also provoked her to take the extreme step.Dr Jayaprakash R, child psychiatrist and unit chief of the Behavioural Paediatrics Unit at SAT Hospital, is of the view that the incident could have been prevented had the teachers shown some sensitivity in handling an adolescent student.
“Reports indicate that instead of speaking to the student in private, she was summoned to the staff room where the teachers severely rebuked her. Any teacher with a basic understand of adolescent psychology would not have adopted such a method,” he said.“Impulsiveness is the hallmark of adolescence. The taunting by other schoolchildren and the severe rebuke by the teachers are enough to hurt the pride of a 15-year-old. The adolescent thinks once her pride is hurt, there is no point in continuing with her life and takes the extreme step. At that point, the adolescent does not think about the consequences of his or her actions and the impact it can have on the people around,” Dr Jayaprakash said.
While school teachers should be sensitised on child psychology and ways to tackle behavioural issues, parents should also keep the channel of communication open with the children, experts say. Counselling service should be made an integral part of the curriculum, and training on suicide prevention should be provided in schools. Teachers should behave in a friendly manner and help adolescents deal with stressful situations. “Instead of accusing children, parents should show concern and listen to their problems patiently. Keeping a watch on the child’s friend circle and noticing any significant variation in behaviour can help parents identify problems and tackle them effectively. Also, a peaceful environment should be provided at home to avoid stress and depression in children,” Jayaprakash said.
The scientific explanation
The pre-frontal cortex is the area of the brain that deals with impulse control and emotional reactions. Since the brain develops in a back to front pattern, the prefrontal cortex is the last portion of the brain to fully develop. The development of the pre-frontal cortex plays a significant role in maturation. Since an adolescent brain’s pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed, he or she cannot control emotions easily or take proper decisions. This prompts them to take extreme steps, experts point out.