Growing Internet and smartphone addiction seem to be on top of the mind of city school students as seen at a seminar held at the New English School at Tilak Road on Friday by Dnyanadevi, Childline. Anuradha Sahastrabudhe, honorary director of the 24-hour helpline for children in distress along with her team, had organised an orientation programme for school prefects and class monitors of various schools in the city to create awareness on issues pertaining to gender sensitisation and empowerment.
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Two sessions were conducted under the Bal Sena-peer support group programme, one for students from Marathi medium schools and another for students of English medium schools. Grouped into three broad areas, students were asked to list the issues they face in personal life, at school and problems they see in society as a whole.
While misuse of the internet leading to porn addiction, child labour and begging were discussed quite animatedly by both groups, students also voiced their personal concerns. They talked about issues related to lack of parental time. On the school front, students complained of lack of time and space alloted to playing. However, the sessions weren’t meant for just discussions as the students were encouraged to come up with solutions, most of which were to be self-implemented. On the school front, students vowed to speak to their administration about playing area demands.
However, not all issues were discussed openly. A few serious concerns like homosexuality were also brought up by few girls. Speaking on the outcome of holding such sessions, Sahasrabudhe said, “Though there was a certain amount of ambiguity, the students opened up and talked about issues such as homosexuality and cigarette addiction openly. Some of the children were concerned about how the issue of homosexuality was affecting their friends and wanted us to address it.”
Amongst other problems, students spoke about unhygienic toilets in schools, vehicular pollution and lack of traffic discipline in the city.