After three Class IX girl students of St. Xavier’s School, Loyola, raised concern against their physical education (PE) teacher for inappropriate behaviour, six more girl students joined in reporting inappropriate behaviour against them by the PE teacher. The total number of complaints against the teacher by girl students now stands at nine.
The 38-year teacher allegedly sent inappropriate and objectionable messages on the social media platform Instagram, asking the girl students to meet him alone.
Despite the rising complaints, the management of the school is yet to inform the police and take appropriate action. The school management claims that the victims’ parents do not wish to involve the police until the inquiry report by the special committee is submitted.
According to legal experts, those aware of the complaint can be put behind bars for failure to report it to the police under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (POCSO) Act.
Under Section 11 of the Act, a person is said to commit sexual harassment upon a child when such person with sexual intent utters any word or makes any sound, or makes any gesture or exhibits any object or part of body with the intention that such word or sound shall be heard, or such gesture or object or part of body shall be seen by the child. Section 11 clearly defines sexual harassment if the perpetrator repeatedly or constantly follows or watches or contacts a child either directly or through electronic, digital or any other means.
Initially, the three students reached out to the school management about the incident first on September 7, but the school management did not initiate any probe. It was only after the reminder by the students on September 9 that in-charge principal Jasmine Shaji gave a warning to the PE teacher and the management decided to conduct a probe.
It is not the first time that the teacher is in the dock for unseemly conduct. In May 2017, an application was filed by the father of a 14-year-old girl after the teacher allegedly asked her to meet him alone.
The special committee formed to look into the allegations against the teacher has started meeting the complainants. The committee is expected to submit the report by September 15.