Ragging in colleges: Dealing with the menace
Created by Payal Updated on Jun 25, 2021
Students look forward to their school ending and the day they would step into the shoes of an adult and start their college life. Life is all about roses and friendship. Newspapers have been rife with the news of ragging in campuses that have lead to chronic injuries and in some cases loss of life. Ragging is a vile aspect of college life. It has taken an ugly turn in recent years. Among the hundreds of cases where ragging has led to severe consequences for the victims, the recent case of Naveen Kujur is heart rending. The 22 year old was forced to do sit ups and push-ups all night and has not walked on his own since.
Ragging and its effects
The victims of ragging are students who have just started college. Though they are adults, ragging is known to give rise to low self-esteem and post traumatic stress disorder in a child. The victim may get scared of crowded places and avoid any social contact. In such a case the victim may not communicate with parents or authority out of fear. Ragging might even include sexual or human rights abuse and can often include group or mob violence. There have been instances of ragging leading to grievous injuries and deaths.
Anti ragging laws
• All India Council for Technical Education has come up with a set of regulations against ragging and some states even have the Anti Ragging Act. Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chandigarh, Kerala, Assam, Maharashtra, Goa, UP, J and K. Karnataka also have state legislation, which prescribes punishment for ragging.
• Other states have colleges that are governed by Administrative Orders passed.
• Be informed and aware of the regulations, which can protect your teen. The Medical Council of India bans ragging and makes it a punishable offence. See http://www.mciindia.org/RulesandRegulations/PreventionofRaggingRegulation2009.aspx. All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has the following url that may be useful information. http://www.aicte-india.org/anti.htm
• The state governments in some states now have strict instructions that all colleges have written undertakings from students and their parents that they will not indulge in ragging. Signing anti-ragging affidavits is a great first step but may not be enough to prevent ragging. Colleges have also been directed to have helplines for ragging victims.
• Rajendra Kachrooo the father of Aman Kachroo the Himachal Pradesh medical college student who lost his life in 2009 as a fall out of the ragging also created this site along with antiraggin.in, www.amanmovement.org , to record ragging complaints round the clock for college students.
How to recognize signs of ragging
Ragging takes place in the guise of “getting to know each other”. However the psychological and increasingly, the physiological damage that it may cause is often incurable. A student who is being ragged in college may not open about it at home. Apart from the shame and fear of being harassed, often teens are under the impression that ragging is a norm; it is “cool”, a necessary hurdle to cross if they want to be a part of the cool college crowd. It is due to this understanding; that they often keep quiet and suffer in silence until it is too late. Ragging usually is concentrated on the first days/months of the college; you could look out for the signs below.
• If the child is not maintaining eye contact while speaking or being spoken to
• The Child is not willing to attend college, social outings, especially if this looks like an aberration from their normally social nature
• Withdrawing from a sport or a extra-curricular activity they are good at
• Hiding injuries, wearing long sleeved shirts or turtlenecks, especially on a hot day. Having no real explanation for doing so.
• Withdrawing from family, not participating in family gatherings like on the dinner table, preferring to spend most of their time inside their room or in a secluded place.
• Having nightmares
• Crying without reason or crying in hiding. Usually the sign of the latter is the redness and swelling in eyes.
What may a parent do…
• Even before the college year begins, make your child aware of what he or she is stepping into. Some parents may have the urge to talk about their own ragging period and in effect serve to idolize the practice. Instead, you may want to explain the difference between “getting to know” and ragging with intention to harm. Asking a fellow newcomer student to sing or dance or put up an act is not, in itself, harmful. It might also lead to talent exposure that may be used in college socials. But when the session moves towards any kind of bodily or psychological abuse, it should be reported to an authority. Anything which is uncomfortable to your child, he or she has full right to talk about it.
• If your child is going to avail the hostel, it is important to inform him or her about the help-lines and websites they can use to get quick help. Many colleges make students and parents sign anti ragging affidavits that also gives a lot of information about the anti ragging rules in the college. Finding out beforehand, who your child should approach in case of lodging a complaint and make sure to meet the responsible person before your child joins the college.
• The college brochure should have all information on anti ragging help-lines, people in anti ragging committee and authority to approach with complaint.
• Check if freshers have a separate hostel block.
• As a parent one could check if the college has novel ways to get complaints- some colleges use drop boxes where students can drop their anonymous complaint. To prevent further victimization of a complainant you could check if a college has proper campus security. A complainant should feel and be safe. Check if the college has councilors available at all times and security in hostels with qualified and active accountable wardens.
• The college could give freshers time to get to know the professors and be confident to deal with seniors, perhaps by starting the new session for fresher’s a few weeks in advance. You may want to collect parents and collectively talk to the college authorities to take up these steps to ensure campus safety for your ward.
What if your child is a victim?
• Keep the communication channels open: The moment you feel that your child is showing one or more symptoms listed above, it perhaps might be time to sit and talk. Your teen may not be willing to divulge details to you, don’t worry-persevere. Letting your child know the importance of sharing and gentle reassurances may help your child open up and communicate with you.
• If your child is at the college hostel and is sounding depressed over the phone, you might want to prod or make a trip to the college to find out for yourself the reason for the recent change in behavior.
• Explain that ragging is not “cool” nor is it acceptable. Chances are, they feel ashamed and probably childish to come and complain at home.
• You must insist that your child immediately talks to someone in authority. A professor who is empathetic or the warden of a hostel, even the security guard, someone in a position to help immediately.
• Encourage your teenager to form a group to protect themselves against raggers.
• Use the helpline: There is a National Anti Ragging Helpline- its number is 1800- 180- 5522
• Students can see the progress of their complaint on www.antiragging.in
• Go to this website- http://no2ragging.org/.
• Find out if the college has its own anti ragging helpline. Keep the number handy.
• Be aware of your state regulations.
• If none of the above seems enough, don’t hesitate to reach out the Police
Our children are ready to begin a new chapter in their lives in the college of their choice. Let us make sure this is a joyful and enriching experience for them.