“Pinky, get ready soon. The bus will come at 7-15 sharp. Take the homework and the lunch box” Sweta shouted.
Pinky shouted back from her room “I am not going to school. I don’t wish to.”
Swetha rushed to her room and found that the girl had not changed to uniform. She found her sitting defiantly on the bed.”Why would you not go to school? Are you not well or what?” Swetha asked.
“I told you, na.I don’t wish to any more” she replied with acerbity in tone.
“What crap you are talking? You are hardly eight. You have to study for another 15 years minimum. What is bothering you? Aren’t you a sweet girl, tell me dear” she asked sitting by her side and putting her arm around her.
The girl kept quiet for some time and started sobbing.
“Come on, do not cry. I will never get angry. Tell me why” Swetha asked gently
“OK, I will go to school but to another one. I will not go here even if you beat me” she said
“I understand Pinky. But should you not tell me the reason. I can convince your dad and do the needful. Tell me whatever it is. Don’t you like some of your class mates and do they bully you?”
“No, the class mates are all very good. I like playing with them” the girl said
“What could be the reason then, my sweet pie?”
She hesitated for a while and then said “I don’t like my class teacher. He always pats my cheek or pinches it gently. He calls me by his side daily for no reason”
Shocked Swetha asked “Does he do to other children?”
“Yes, to some of the girls in the class and never to boys. But he does it to me more. I don’t like his touch” she said
“Does he touch you and the other girls anywhere else?”
“He runs his hands on the head and the back”
“Ok, you stay back today and spend time with grand ma watching cartoons. I will meet your headmistress and see whether you can be put in another section. Do not worry. I am happy that you mentioned to me instead of suffering in silence. Good girl. I like you, my dear”
Swetha met the headmistress privately in her room and expressed in detail what she heard from Pinky and her own apprehensions of the teacher’s intentions. The headmistress was shocked and said “There had been no complaints so far though I have heard some kids telling about his propensity to pat the kids to encourage them. But Pinky’s complaint puts the whole thing in different and scary perspective. I am thankful to you for bringing this to my notice. I will have a word with the offending teacher and warn him strictly”
Swetha said “This will not do.He will deny and tell that they were harmless and well intentioned gestures to motivate the kids. The other girls may not come forward due to fear or shame. I feel it is futile to ask him or warn him. He is a potential pedophile and a menace. He will bring bad reputation to school before long”
“Are you suggesting that I sack him without inquiry based on a child’s testimony?”
“Not at all. Let us catch him red handed doing this to many girls.Dont breathe a word to any other staff.
Get a hidden camera fixed in the class facing him. You can see for yourself and confront him with irrefutable evidence to sack or hand over to police whichever way you wish. I can bear the expenses and even send a man to do this after school hours on the pretext of checking electrical fault. No one else would be the wiser for it, I promise”
“Thank you, Swetha.You go ahead and you have my permission. Tell me when it is done. We can meet again after two days with some strong evidence” the headmistress said
Swetha had the bug fixed the next day evening. She told Pinky that she had spoken to the Headmistress and they will solve the problem within a day or two.”Please go to school and behave in the usual manner. Do not tell anyone that you had spoken to me. Be casual. If he pats you or pinches the cheek or runs his hand along your back, try to wrench yourself away from him by moving. Don’t keep standing. If he touches you at inappropriate places, you can even scream”
The next day when the classes commenced, the class teacher saw Pinky and called her near him. She came and stood a little away. He said “Come closer. Why were you absent for two days? Were you not well? Come nearer”
When she did not budge, he pulled her and patted her.”Why are you afraid? Do not be absent even for a day” he said as he ran his hand on her back and lingering at her bum a little longer. Pinky wrenched herself and ran to the seat.
He muttered “Foolish girl” and asked Ganga to come with her note book. The ten year girl with fear writ large on her face came. He put his hand as an affectionate mom or dad would and drew her close. She tried to wriggle out but could escape only after a few pats and pinches. The girl went back and was seen wiping tears from her eyes.
This went on with a couple of more girls in intervals. In between he called a boy and slapped him for asking a doubt.
The next day Swetha had a phone call from the headmistress. She said “I am not calling you to come as I wish to keep your identity confidential. The pervert has been caught in the camera clearly and the Correspondent is here with me. He has also seen and very much perturbed. The teacher is a married man with wife a home maker and three young children. We could have sacked him and handed him over to police. Taking into account his family and that he has not done anything beyond touching the girls, we decided to accept his resignation. He will no more enter the school or any school for that matter. We warned him the circumstances of his leaving would be conveyed to any school he joined. He must look for some other vocation as he is not fit to be a teacher which is a sacred profession based on trust and good values. Is this ok with you?”
Swetha was pleased at the way the problem had been resolved.