[Reader-list] the Act of leisure
definetime at rediffmail.com
Tue Nov 30 15:37:28 IST 2004
It's strange that the Delhi Police is video recording 'loiterers'. If the opposite were to happen, the Police force as I see it in South Delhi would be in a lot of trouble. The local constabulary goes around collecting money/goods from almost every construction site, every street vendor - without any fear.
Well almost. About a year ago, the patrolling constables would come on a daily basis to the construction next door and 'collect' on a daily basis from the labourers. Once when I was in the ear-shot of their dealings, they quickly stepped aside and started an impromptu chit-chat
with me. As I heard from the labourers later, they resumed their 'dealings' the minute, I turned my back to them.
This whole surveillance and security does have a strong class element to it. And the 'terms of entry' issue revolves around that same class conflict to an extent.
Once I saw this same 'patrolling squad' question this guy probably from the nearby slum cluster, (about 18 or so) who was merrily passing through our colony with 3 girls. The questioning bordered on intimidation, and since it all happened in my presence I can add - comepletely uncalled for. In the barricaded colonies of south delhi, our constitution rights become quite hazy. Whatever the DP's pretenses, the fact remains that only a chosen few are at the recieving end.
Here's a little news item from a slightly more evolved society, which seems to encompass vigilance(surveillance), public space, 'anti-social' behaviour and authoritarian might.
Hope it adds fuel to the ongoing conversations.
Parents protest as school suspends 40 girls for bullying
Audrey Gillan and Rebecca Smithers
Saturday November 27, 2004
At first there were only a few of them - girls gathered by a wall outside school at 3pm last Tuesday. Two had agreed to meet to chat about a wayward boyfriend, but jealousy and spurned feelings of teenage love quickly turned the encounter into a screaming match.
As the words "slag" and "bitch" flew, more pupils were drawn into the crowd. At the centre of it was a 15-year-old, being pushed and shoved and told that if she came back to school she would be "dead".
Yesterday, she was not at Glenmoor school in Bournemouth. Nor were 40 of her fellow pupils, who were suspended by their head teacher, accused being involved in a bullying incident.
Images captured by the school's CCTV cameras show a growing group of 13 to 15 year olds as the row escalates. Pam Orchard, the school's head, intervened when two of her teachers failed to control the situation. After assessing the footage, she concluded that all 40 girls had been involved in bullying.
The victim, she said, was petrified: "When I went out there to break it up I couldn't believe what I saw. They were swarming about the girl like bees round a honey pot, punching and kicking out.
"The girl was absolutely terrified. This was so disgraceful I had no option but to suspend for a fixed term the girls who participated in it. I won't tolerate bullying of any kind in my school."
Mrs Orchard said that girls who were "normally polite and accommodating" were crowding round the girl and "behaving like a mob". She gathered them all together on Wednesday and told them not to return to school until Monday.
The victim and her 14-year-old accuser had agreed to have a chat after one discovered the other had snogged her ex-boyfriend, who had finished with her a week or two before.
Yesterday, a number of the girls who had been suspended said that Mrs Orchard had over-reacted.
Chelsea Collins, 14, said the younger girl, who was alleged to have started the incident, was upset by everything that had happened.
"She is a quiet girl and she said that she wants the whole thing to come to an end, for people to stop arguing. She is really sorry." Chelsea said she was angered by her suspension.
"I feel like I have been victimised. I was just walking past the crowd and went to have a look at what was going on. I was on the edge of the group. I didn't say anything to anyone and I didn't attack anyone."
Her mother, Jakki - along with some of the other girls' parents - said she was furious that her daughter had been excluded.
"I have spoken to my lawyer about my daughter being branded a bully. It is not true. How can you suspend a girl for not doing anything and just watching an incident?"
Another mother, Tracy O'Shea, said her daughter, Kirsty, 15, had merely walked over to the group to see what was happening and ended up being punished. "She was one of the last ones to meet up with the group. Like most people would, my daughter came out of school, saw this confusion going on, walked over to see what was happening and that is all she did."
A friend of the girl who started the row said: "When she realised that everyone was being suspended she started crying. She said it was all her fault and that she was really sorry. The boy they were fighting over wasn't worth the bother."
Another girl said: "She was really upset when he dumped her about two weeks ago. Then on Friday night he got off with the other girl on the common. She found out about it and got really upset. But then everyone started to gather round and shout stuff at her."
Last night, Jayne Bond, the school's assistant head, denied that the school had overreacted as a result of this week being declared national Anti-Bullying Week by the Department for Education and Skills.
"If this had not happened during Anti-Bullying Week, we would have made exactly the same decision," she said. "I haven't heard that any parents will be taking legal advice, but if I do hear of it, we will also have to do that." Pupils knew the school's bullying policy. "All the girls know if an incident is happening and you join in and you don't do anything to help or support, then you have to be equally culpable.
"We can't allow an incident like this to occur and not do anything about it. We have to make it very clear that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable."
According to government figures, one in three secondary school pupils experiences bullying and one in four primary pupils is a victim of playground abuse. More than half of all children believe that bullying is a "big problem".
About 80% of incidents take place at lunchtime or during breaks. But in the most serious cases, according to the charity, Kidscape, up to 20 children kill themselves every year as a result of bullying.
Outside Glenmoor school yesterday, a group of girls stood by the wall, singing, playing and staring at the media gathered on the pavement across the road.
They didn't know what all the fuss was about.
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