Navi Mumbai mum recounts the horror her 5-year-old suffered at Ryan International School
"She told me that she had gone to the washroom and told the aunty outside that she was going in. When she tried to come out, she realized the door was locked from outside."
With the recent horror story emerging out of the Ryan school incident in Gurugram, I realized there is something really really wrong with the way the school chain functions.
My first born was studying in Ryan International, Navi Mumbai for 4 years, but finally, we had to get her away from that school, to ensure her safety and mental peace. Today, as a 10-year-old, she is doing amazingly well in her academics, and not just that, she is safe, very well taken care of, and is very very happy.
Just the way a child should be.
Let me tell you what happened.
One of the first issues I had with the school was their kindergarten staff. My daughter studied there from Nursery till standard I – 4 years in all. The staff was not trained enough to handle small kids, especially new admissions and babies who are going to school for the first time.
Their policy was to scare the kids into submission. As a first time parent, I used to protest, I felt it was the wrong way to handle babies who are already scared to be taken away from their parents and made to stay in an unfamiliar place. But as most other parents were silent, my complaints did not work.
Once the initial hurdles passed, things started looking smooth. The first year was alright. When she went into Junior Kg the next year, my daughter started telling me the teacher was hitting her. At first, I thought she must have mistaken some other gesture for hitting. Definitely a big mistake on my part. I tried talking to her a few times but her account was the same – the teacher was hitting her.
I decided to confront the teacher
I went to pick her up at school and there the class teacher came to hand over the students. In front of all the parents, I asked the teacher what happened. She denied, but my daughter, who was about three and a half then, gave a detailed account. And she was very confident.
The teacher’s body language immediately changed and she was at a loss for words. This was a time when corporal punishment had been banned in schools and teachers were not allowed to hit students.
I told the teacher I would be back. Next day I visited the principal and the class teacher, looked them in the eye, and told them that this was against the law, and the next time my daughter even once mentions something like this, I would make sure they would be taken to the media and given their due. They apologized profusely and the hitting incidence never happened.
2 years, 2 problems.
Third year, Senior Kg. My daughter was always excited to go to school but one day after she got off the school bus, she was absolutely quiet. She was a very chirpy baby and would start telling me about her day even before she could get off the bus. But that day she was quiet. I thought she must be sleepy.
She came home, slept, got up, but did not speak a word. NOT A WORD. Once my husband came home, he too tried talking to her. But it was like something had happened and she would not speak at all. Next day when I was waking her up saying she has to get ready else the school bus would go, she started screaming in fear.
Just the mention of the word SCHOOL BUS made her scream. I decided she should stay home. Not a word again the entire day or night. Next day when she saw a school bus from the balcony, she started screaming and crying again. I had already done the worst checks a parent can do, checking the child for signs of any injury.
But there were no physical signs of injury. For days we tried to make her talk in any way possible, but she clammed up. She just stopped talking. This was even before she was more than 4 years old. We went to the school but they said nothing had happened in the bus. Clearly, this was not true. It was the bus that was making her so scared and she was terrified.
We had to do what no parent wants their child to go through. Make a 3 and half-year-old sit through trauma counseling sessions.
For the next three months, I had to take her to the school in my arms, drop her to class and sit outside, so that she would not freak out. I did this every day for three months, sun, rain or anything, and finally, after the first three months, she started speaking a little.
During these months, we had to take her to child counselors and psychologists who clearly stated this was some form of the trauma she was going through. A 3 and half-year-old child, who was perfectly happy when she boarded the school bus in the morning – what trauma could have happened that made her stop speaking from the time she got off the bus back home? The school said they had no idea, and refused to help any further.
If you think that’s all, there is more.
Fourth year. Class I. Locked up in the washroom.
My daughter came home and burst into tears. I could see she had been crying, because there were lots of tear marks on her face. I helped her calm down but she was sobbing too much. Finally, she told me that she had gone to the washroom and told the aunty outside that she was going in. When she tried to come out, she realized the door was locked from outside.
She banged the door for a long time, shouting and crying, but no one came. All this DURING SCHOOL HOURS. The sides of her palms were swollen from all the banging on the door. Finally, she saw a mop tied to the long stick, and my little 5 and a half year old took that stick, waved it outside the window hoping someone would see.
Someone did see and opened the door. She was taken to the class and was crying a lot, the teachers tried to calm her down and finally sent her home in the school bus.
All this happened while school was on, and no one was bothered about where a small standard I could have disappeared to for so long.
I will just say that I gave the school a piece of my mind after that. I am sure you are wondering why we didn’t get her out of that horrible place called Ryan International School. Initially, my husband thought it was how all schools function and nothing was that wrong, but after this last incident, I pulled her out of that school.
Two more friends whose children were also at Ryan, but in older classes, had very bad experiences with the staff and overall care and safety of the children and pulled their kids out as well.
All I can say is, if your child goes to Ryan, just be careful. Be vigilant, and always listen to them. I made a mistake by not putting a stop to it the moment my baby first complained. Thankfully, today, both my children are very happy with the school they go to.
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