The issue of moral policing in schools and its long-term impact on students

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    Were you ever shamed for the length of your skirt or for simply interacting with the opposite gender in school? If your answer to the above questions was a big YES, you probably know what moral policing is and how it impacts you. While moral policing among girls is a much-talked-about issue these days, men have also been severely affected by this common trend in school under the name of “discipline”. A school is an institution where discipline forms the core value but recent trends suggest that things done in the name of disciplining students may lead to lower self-esteem in them and scar their confidence. To find the impact and how real it is, we conducted an interview with both men and women out of some who requested to be anonymous.

    Impact of moral policing in men

    The shaming culture in schools is real and the legitimate response on the same makes it undeniable. On being asked about some instances, our candidates recalled some memories of how they were randomly called out for basic things like talking to girls, asked to stay away from students who were less studious, their beliefs and opinions on sensitive matters, and one of the most common one, their dress-code. The erroneous standard imposed by teachers forces students to fit in a box and gives them an inferiority complex when they try to move out of the set boundary. Mrinal Sharma, 27, says “the moral policing did not harm me much eventually because I grew up in a cosmopolitan culture at home. But my friends were not so fortunate. Many of them grew up thinking it was taboo interacting with people from other genders and they could never open up completely. Boys and girls developed mental blocks that hindered their understanding of people from other genders. This led to awkward behavior, verbal aggression, and insensitivity towards the concerns of the other genders.” Kabir Siddique, 24, talked about how it has affected his self-esteem, “I doubt on too many things and have an inferiority complex towards issues no matter big or small”. I don’t completely agree or disagree with the statement as for what I think it is important to be presentable but also to be yourself and it’s not possible to be true to ourselves when we are constantly told how to behave”

    Moral policing surely is the root cause of many issues that we realize later in life and immediate action should be taken to normalize things that don’t need heat in the name of disciplining students, the most important of all being gender sensitive and open to interacting with all in order to develop as individuals with a healthy mindset.

    Impact of moral policing in women

    Do you often feel for women people use clothes as a weapon, trying to put them in a box by saying “it is the right way” On interviewing women candidates it became evident that clothes is the number one issue young girls in schools are shamed for and not only does it lead to problematic behavior as adults, it also ingrains in their mind that there is a “right way” to be? Pranomi Banerjee, 21, says “I was often shamed for the length of my skirt, wearing a ponytail instead of braids, having more than one piercing on my ears and tinted lip balms. The list goes on. I think the fact that we were “taught” what a girl should and should not do is the problem. We grew up believing what was told and we often judged other women/girls based on that. It was much later that I realized that I have no grounds to judge someone else based just on that. I was once told by a teacher that I looked like a 40y/o just because I got a second ear piercing. I didn’t know how that was supposed to make me feel. Mehak Bellani, 21, recalls a disturbing event that took place, “There was this time I was appearing for my board examinations and I was not allowed to sit for my exams until they chopped off my nails with scissors. Although I have experienced various instances of being shamed, this one happens to be ingrained in my memory. While my batchmates were beginning writing their examinations, I was being groomed because the institution wanted perfect nails to be a priority at a point where I was under enormous stress. I am of the view that my school teachers should have understood my mental state and should not have made me go through the mental pressure of not letting me sit for one of my first important competitive exams and give importance to grooming my nails first. Teachers happen to be the torch-bearers of the shaming culture”

    These incidents somehow don’t shock us and that is the sad reality of the shaming culture that is evidently practiced in schools where a child learns and grows to experience life. An impeccable standard of self-love and seeing interaction among all students irrespective of their gender should be made a healthy precedent. In order to help young girls and boys develop into individuals that hold their ground and have an open and healthy mindset, teachers should be trained regarding these issues.

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