There Will Be Blood On Their Hands

A 14 year old girl is dead and our puritanical society reacts predictably, with bans imposed on mobile phones in schools and a handful of holier than thou hypocrites lashing out against movies, media, advertising, music and western culture etc.

Why blame the mobile phone when it could have been anything? A colleague of mine once attempted suicide because her examination results did not meet parental expectations and she could not bear to face their anger. If she died, would they have banned A/L exams?

Also, why hasn’t anyone blamed the principal, the parents or whichever social norm that instilled so much fear in her, she chose suicide over being confronted?

How much evil can a 14 year old girl generate with a phone? Access porn? Indulge in phone sex? Engage in sordid crimes?

Chances are she merely used the mobile phone to keep in touch with her boyfriend.

 But still she felt that her school and her parents could inflict upon her a fate worse than death. Disciplinary actions threatened by her school and the consequential wrath of parents drove her to extreme heights of terror.

 Maybe it’s hard for most people to understand that kind of apprehension, but I know it all too well. I have contemplated the same for much less.

My father ruled with an iron fist and didn’t care to spare the rod. I remember wanting to run away from home when I lost an expensive racquet. At the end of term, I used to wander around in school, too afraid to go home with my report card if my position fell below 3rd in the class. But the worst was anything boy-related. I distinctly remember looking around the house, wishing for ways to die when my father obtained a detailed phone bill and found out that I had spent hours on the phone at night, talking to a boy which was absolute taboo. Fortunately I had more grit and sanity prevailed. I was 15 then and it wasn’t the last time I felt that way. In the face of expulsion from school I know I could have done the same.

You might say that it was cowardice on my part, but it wasn’t. I was small, scared and knew perfectly well that my father was capable of making good on his threats. He was no monster, just an exceptionally strict parent who’s bark was a lot worse than his bite.  But the fear he had drilled in to me was so great that I would never expect him to understand, accept or forgive.

The feeling of panic that engulfs you at that moment of getting caught erases all capacity for rational thought. You believe the worst will happen and frantically seek means of escape. Every threat that has been directed at you becomes real and magnified out of proportion. It’s not really surprising that death becomes an option.

Had the parents been more approachable and the school not so crude in their method of enforcing discipline, maybe she wouldn’t have resorted to such drastic measures.

Sadly, our self-righteous authorities still keep ranting away about mobile phones and porn, when instead they need to focus on the real social evil which is the lack of understanding between parents and children. Perhaps it’s more convenient to blame technology and western culture rather than admit that sometimes the roots of evil may lie within the so called sacred units of family and school.

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47 thoughts on “There Will Be Blood On Their Hands

  1. i was wondering why no one had written about this earlier…

    i agree and disagree with u delilah.. yes, no one can blame mobile phones here, and if im not mistaken the president has imposed a ban on advertisements for cell phone packages that encourage couples eg: the kit double thingy… which i feel is the heights of stupidity…

    agreed, the fear that some families impose on their children is a contributing factor (i too have felt the same, sometimes not even asking permission from parents to go to a friends house lest it be ‘unacceptable’), but i dnt think the parents nor the principal are to blame here.. from what ive read, the principal merely confiscated the phone.. at most the principal would have reported to the parents, which is the right thing to do.. its very likely however that the parents know nothing about this phone, as its probably a gift from the clandestine bf…

    i feel such deep sadness for what has happened here, and yet i see no person to blame except the girl herself.. perhaps society is to blame for the pressures we put on children, and yet…

    i just dont know…

    1. G,
      i’m not saying that the school shouldnt have confiscated the phone or that the parents shouldnt have been strict. by all means they had every right to do so. but HOW its done is what matters. had this been handled more diplomatically by the prefects and the school authorities, things could have been different. the threats of expulsion and the stigma that follows can be a very scary thing when you are only 14. Even then if she knew her parents would punish her fairly and be done with it, she still may have come through. but sadly this girl was stuck between a harsh principal and parents that she couldnt turn to.
      which is why i blame parents who make their children feel that there is no exoneration after they make a mistake and school authorities who display no tact.

  2. Knee jerk reactions to please pre historic-minded parents and authorities helps nobody.

    But then again you’ve said all that and much more in your post. Nothing I have to say other than that I never had much sympathy for suicidal people.

  3. Jerry, she was just 14 and terrified of being expelled. i’m sure it seemed as if her life was over anyway. ‘suicidal people’ are still people after all.

    C, yeah dont go there today 🙂

  4. Our society is seriously screwed up. A fourteen year old girl commits suicide over porn? Seriously the adults in our community have to get their priorities right. I was most appalled by the inhumane comments # 4 from Ganga in Gossip Lanka. The incident reminds me of the lyrics from Don Mc Lean’s Vincent (about Vincent Van Gogh) quoted below. It’s not the girl who was messed up. It’s the evil people she had the misfortune to be surrounded by.

    For they could not love you
    but still your love was true

    and when no hope was left in sight on that starry
    starry night.
    You took your life
    as lovers often do;
    But I could have told you
    Vincent
    this world was never
    meant for one
    as beautiful as you.

  5. As a father of two lovely dawties, i kind of feel sad this happened, this shouldn’t have, but then again this could have been prevented i guess, had the princy, teachers and prefects been a little humane, mature, sane and accepted that infatuation, porn, curiosity to explore are just part of adolescence. My Mom is a school principal herself, and a girls school at that, i know she is faced with situations like this almost every week. They range from simple love letters, boy friend photos, porn magazines, CDs to more serious things like elope on the way to school.

    Once there was this student who had become pregnant, lover boy was her school van driver. They found out when the girl had started to vomit in class… Being a muslim school does come with its own set of rules & restrictions. I guess Mom did the right thing, just helped the girl to marry him. Parents also handled it quite well coz that was the only sane option left. An abortion was out of the question coz it was too late by then and it would mean risking Mother’s (student’s) life. It was a tricky situ, so they had a hurried hush hush wedding.

    This meant the girl leaving school pending A/L exams, but then the girl is alive & happy. Mom however came under fire. She was blamed for being TOO KIND to a culprit who was setting a bad example. Fortunately for us, its a private school run by our family, so we could withstand all negative publicity and pressure. We could easily say to hell with it. I don’t think gov’t schools have that luxury coz they depend on others to run the school. Strangely though Mom was issued a notice by the “Jamiyathul Ulama” (Muslim version of Maha sanga or Arch bishop) to prove her innocence coz some extreme elements had gone and lodged complains saying the school in question was setting a bad example. Such is the irony of our society.

    Yes, Mom came out clean, but the society blames everyone for everything. I know the school in question will not recover from bad press, we have been in similar situations many times though there was never a loss of life in any of those situations. We have had students who eloped with boyfriends on their way to school. Many are found in Cinemas & at places like MC in school uniform kissing their boyfriends. What has the school got to do with it? I can tell you schools can’t be blamed either. Fact is kids are in school only 6 hours, rest 18 hours they are with parents. Not trying to blame or point fingers, but i’d think its a collective responsibility.

    1. i’m not blaming the school or parents for not enforcing discipline. children will always make mistakes. but they need to be given the confidence that parents and teachers will punish them fairly and forgive them.

  6. Brilliant post D, Families i.e siblings and parents should be more approachable and be the alternative source of solace if all other sources let you down – if not the primary source.

    Appalingly, these sources seem to be on a path of conflict and one is usually antagonistic to the other, and the person in question is always in a mess not knowing where to place allegience.

    Suicide in young ppl/children can be drastically reduced if the family was close knit, and if the family was selfless enough to take even the role of “fall back source of comfort” if all else fails for the child.

    Fortunately I am blessed with such a family, and confident to be mischievous outside home albeit with conditions. If a child has no place to run, contemplating suicide is but natural.

  7. Delilah…rightly said!! Its stupid people making stupid decisions…banning mobile phones at schools? i mean it was restricted when we were there also, but it was never a government law! This is just stupid…

    I would say that the school authorities should be blamed for being such harsh and strict towards that 14 year old…

  8. I don’t know. The phone might have been secretly obtained like gehan said, had embarrassing images of herself, purportedly meant for a boyfriend or might have just been a bunch of texts.

    But I still find it hard to think of as a fate worse than death. Threats of expulsion? Had plenty. But my parents are pretty lenient towards anything like that, after they get over the drama or yelling. I haven’t experienced said drama but I know they aren’t going to make my life a living hell.

    Being a girl would change everything, I guess, since she’d have the added bonus of being ostrarized by our society. Blaming society isn’t going to change anything. We just have to wait till the next generation pops up and hope they’re more… Forward thinking. Less archaic. Less hypocritical. Buuuuttt I still cling to the idea that nobody in their right minds would think of death as an option. But then again it’s no wonder our suicide rate is so high what with mindsets like ours and meddling people.

    1. exactly my point. your parents were lenient even when school wanted to kick you out. you had a comfort zone. something to fall back on. some people dont.

  9. The ban is utter tosh. kids are going to do it anyway. We should be tackling child psychology and why a child would prefer death for something like this.

  10. Just for your info, this is the second suicide at this school. About 5 years ago or so another girl jumped off the balcony on the top floor. The top floors are all barred now but obviously they have not addressed the cause of the problem.

    I do think parents should not be too strict. Discipline, yes, but within a framework where the child knows that if they confess and repent punishment will be light.

  11. I agree with aufidius, but also with you D. She was horrified at the prospect of getting expelled. Coming from the same school, I know the fear that is instilled in us from the getgo. I myself have faced the wrath of the current Principal, and I know how hard she can be, though it was ages ago. I now for sure that they wouldn’t have listened to her explanation as they would have believed her to be lying. The prospect of expulsion, nevertheless the humiliation caused itself is quite horrific. There would have been a better way of handling this, rather than taunts and accusations. I mean for the love of education, it wasn’t even her phone. But what’s done is done, and there’s no undoing it. I totally agree with aufidius on how such things can be prevented. If only people would listen to such suggestions and act upon them. I believe schools need to be a bit more compassionate. I would suggest enhanced counselling measures, if the students don’t receive “fallback support” that is needed from home, maybe the school can at least do it’s bit to ensure that such things don’t repeat. But seriously, banning mobile phones. Geez, there are other uses for mobile phones. It’s a common form of communication. Does the government really think it will help to ban such things. I just wish they would put their efforts into a more worthwhile cause.

  12. RSZ & Dee, absolutely. lets just hope that this incident will open some eyes.

    Jack, i do remember that. Which was again over an issue with parents if i recall correct.

    Whack, thanks. ‘reactive morons’ sums them up well. remember the last time they reacted? when that girl was murdered at Royal Park? precious little came out of those bans.

    Black Rose, i know about this particular principal. which is why i can imagine what drove her over the edge. but i’m sure she could have withstood that if only she knew her parents would be compassionate.

  13. Them banning phones and all that just makes it all the more exciting. Kids around are all a bunch of daredevils, it’s all about testing how far they would go and getting away with it. The ban’s just gonna make things worse.

    Lovely way of putting down your perspective though. Poor girl.

    1. Sabz, thanks. you are right, this will just provoke them. also, mobile phones were banned in this school anyway but that didnt stop these kids from using them anyway. same goes for the new ‘bans’.

  14. I tend to side with D on this, too often parents fail in their responsibility to ensure a nurturing protective environment for their kids. Its easy to pass the buck on to the schools and something as silly as a mobile phone when the fault lies closer to home. But then, that’s our SL way right, blame the absurd, not the reality

  15. Very good post. Parents should enforce discipline on their kids, but also let them know that when all else fails, they will still be there for them as parents.

    I have parents who live by these rules so I know how valuable they are.

  16. Sigma, true. its sad how people prefer to turn a blind eye to the fact that the problem begins within the dynamics of family.

    TKRP, thanks. some parents just dont realise the importance of letting their kids know that their love is unconditional.

  17. Instead of banning phones, we should ask those who advocate this to ban ties instead. After all, that is what she hanged herself with.

    1. yeah you never know they might come up with that soon and also maybe ban locks on the school bathroom doors.

  18. Typical of our medieval puritans, isn’t it. React impulsively without considering the ROOT CAUSE of the problem: Mental issue of the Parents, School officials and society in general.

  19. Our society seems to be going from bad to tragic.

    I noticed some people comment on suicide here, and with all due respect, a 14 year old does not have the same strength of character and will as even a 24 year old. This is the time they are growing into themselves, their bodies and their character. Where would this girl have found the strength to overcome her fear or humiliation, with archaic parents and puritanical schools?

    We teach any child over 6 to deny their childhood – they are taught to study, study, study and nothing else.

    When this childhood-denied child becomes a teenager, we again teach them to deny who they are. Natural curiosity about the opposite sex is deemed wrong, which is why teenagers will barely developed libidos still turn to porn. A harmless friendship with a member of the opposite sex (especially if you are a girl) is cause for scandal. Is it a wonder our children are guided by fear, and tend to go for extremes when the opportunity arises?

    Look at even the school uniform – a 14 to 16 year old, with developing breasts are made to wear ill-fitting uniforms which highlight everything that it should not.

    Why do we decry everything that is a natural part of growing up?

    I blame this girls parents, school and society at large for doing this to an innocent child.

    Next thing you know, we’ll be banning pen and paper because it tempts children to write love letters.

  20. Queen,
    thank you for addressing the suicide part in particular. why i decided to write this post was because, while everyone i discussed this incident with seemed sympathetic enough, there was a distinct whiff of ‘only cowards commit suicide’. which again came out here. but as you so aptly put it, at 14 one cant expect such strength of character. especially not under the extreme circumstances she faced.

  21. People who have never been at that lonely, dark place which is a step away from suicide doesn’t know what a person goes through to be at such a place. I admire people who refrain from the temptation to commit suicide, but I also understand how scary the whole experience is. When adults cannot even find the strength to hold back, why do we expect our children to be able to? It is easy to criticize something that one doesn’t understand. As unlikely as it is, I just hope this country learns something from this tragedy

    1. Queen, thanks. its simply the lack of empathy and refusing to accept what they themselves have not experienced. I suppose its easier for those of us who have had a taste of it.

  22. @ Queen,
    I realize that teaching is no more an honorable role that it was previously. Teachers can build up people, a society or a nation through teaching (Ah! Big talk!), and it goes without doubt saying that teachers are valuable assets in our country. The basic job of a teacher is to inspire and enhance the confidence of the student, and to bring out his/her hidden qualities. Many more basic personality traits like honesty, integrity, ethics, etc… are inspired by a teacher…. I, a son of a school teacher, and whose family has been running a private school for many decades now can easily relate to this problem. For instance my Mom gets blamed for all the wrong doings of her students, Why? because she is the principal. And its easy to put the blame on the head of the institute. It was the same when my granny used to run the school back then. She was blamed for many things. Then Mom took over, it’s the same again.. Decades have passed, society hasn’t grown up. The Blame game ends with the school & more importantly the principal.

    Female Students bring male condoms, Porn Mags, CDs and even feeding bras (I think maternity bra is the correct term?) etc.. to school… They experiment with all kinds of things. Some are just insane. I’m embarrassed to admit it on a public forum, but it happens and that’s the sad truth no matter how hard the schools try to inculcate good values in the students…

    I really don’t have a solution to this, but I’m glad my two daughters aren’t growing up in that society. Cruel way of putting it, but then I’m a selfish Dad who never wanted his children brought up among Sri Lankans… Honestly i never wanted anything Srilankan in my kids..Sometimes it just sucks… When everything around you is screwed up, you have very little to hope for……

  23. You mean all the time me and my friends snuck phones into school back then, they weren’t banned ?? 😛 Recommended Satire read: http://bit.ly/ckEeR

    But I entirely agree with Delilah, a strong close knit family or SOMEONE to fall back on would have prevented this. To bring up an example, in my O/L days a classmate of mine was nabbed with a sinhala porn mag. We have a big school so it didnt go as far as the principal, but the VP, grade head, class teacher and assorted teacher were assembled for tribunal of sorts and the parents were called for.

    His Dad showed up, listened to everything the teachers had to say and then just blasted right back saying they were totally blowing this out of proportion, its only natural to be curious at that age, what so taboo about the female nude, why the need for this ‘witchhunt’ with the parents etc. and he defended him. 😆 so the teachers had to give him a far less punishment than the detention/suspension that was in the works. Of course he got a hiding when he got home, but Dad was there for him.

    Death is not THE worst thing that can happen in life. I envy those who disagree. It means they haven’t gone through that state, i hope they never do. Its not pretty. She shouldnt have taken her life, one should always be strong enough to hope and wait for a better day. But not everyone has the knowledge or strength or help to think of a way out of lifes difficult situations. A 14 year old even less so I should think.

    These are SCHOOLS, this should not happen.

  24. a 16 year old cousin of mine ran away from home and married a 28 year old man, in the name of “love”. her parents didn’t allow any contact with males, the usual with most muslim families, but she found a way. and it was pretty easy since this guy happens to be her neighbor. the guys parents approved and got them married, her mother was furious, the father didn’t really care much, there was nothing he could do.

    I don’t know what this has to do with your post, but parents can be quite fucking stupid, imo. So yeah… just thought I’d share that 😛

    1. i’m sure every parent does it with good intentions. but they need to understand that children will always find a way to break the rules. so instead of tightening the grip maybe they should just focus that energy on teaching kids how to deal with the consequences of their actions.

  25. as far as i’ve heard, a teacher had gone through the student’s phone, read sms’s out, ridiculed her, made fun of her and told other teachers. now this is no way for a teacher to handle a situation such as this. sigh.

  26. I think you’ve seen it fairly clearly. It’s so easy to blame people, but they’re all doing the best they can. No one has really thought about how to deal with this kind of situation, because, most likely, Sri Lankans as a people are pretty reactive. At 14, everything seems huge. I’ve been there and thought about it, and though I’m grateful I didn’t do it I understand, though I’m sad for her, because it’s such a waste…

  27. Sweetidiot, i heard similar stories too. anyone who has attended an all girls school will know how that process works. the prudish prefects, public humiliation, harsh teachers, staff room gossip and being labeled as a slut etc. whats worse is that this school has seen the same happen before. and no one has pulled up this principal or questioned her reign of terror.

    Alterego, hopefully all parties responsible will remember this incident for a long time to come.

  28. *revises views on suicidal people*

    I still find it hard to believe someone can take death as an option though. And no, I was 14 once too 😛 Albeit a male so it’s kinda different I guess. But I did almost tear up while watching Cinderella Man though…

    Er, anyway,
    For me, suicide was never a viable option merely because of the sheer loss of opportunity. There was just so much stuff to do in life. And school was just a part of it. Screw school, whenever something happened I’d be contemplating stalking the offending teachers home and beating some sense into them with a bat, not suicide.

    But I guess for different people it’s just… different.
    Meh.

  29. Only the male ones would be bastards :p Thankfully I forged an alliance with the uber strict principal towards the end of school. But they were still pretty bitchy about everything.

      1. I built a website for school. Which I am yet to hand in… O.o

        Me and some friends also did most of the photography at various events. You tend to meet the rector a lot that way, and we always behaved our best around him 😀

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