The leaked chats of Delhi's school-going boys on an online group of a social networking site have, once again, highlighted the need for meaningful sex education in India with psychologists saying teenagers and adolescents must be made aware of concepts such as respect and consent.
The teenage boys would share "objectionable posts about minor girls" on a group called "#BoysLockerRoom" on Instagram.
The group was exposed after a girl from south Delhi shared screenshots of their chats on social media. The chats revealed school boys shared photos of underage girls, objectifying them, and planning "gang rapes".
Psychologists and children counsellors say communication between parents and children on sex and related topics should open and must be taken forward with dignity.
Padma Rewari, Mumbai-based psychotherapist and children counsellor, says the way sex education is imparted in India has to change. "Respect and consent," Rewari says, should be emphasised in conversations.
"The easy access of content to children and young adults determines how a teenage mind operates," Rewari told Outlook, adding, "Phone and content accessibility without filters can be a dangerous thing for young children."
"A teenager is anyway on a hormone paradox of mixed emotions.”
Dr Vinod Kumar, Psychiatrist and Head, Mpower- The Centre, Bengaluru says, “In my view, sex education curriculum and the process are abysmal in our country to say the least. The whole process is hindered by the so-called conservative values which have resulted in a very reluctant and inadequate attempt at sex education. In some progressive schools, attempts are being made but they require a lot more attention to developing them to an international standard keeping in mind the current Indian socio-cultural context.”
Psychologist Dr Varkha Chulani says, “If every time sex is been talked about in hushed whispers, then these things are going to happen more often. What I understand is that these boys have not been educated in terms of respecting women and sadly this is the culture that prevails in our country where women are objectified and looked upon as sexual creatures whose only role is to provide pleasure to the man and to serve his needs.”
According to Psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria, there is a need to understand the psychology of boys behind such behaviour. “We need to understand where this behaviour is coming from. Is this coming from a home where some trauma that these kids have gone through themselves? Is this coming from some sexual abuse or is it coming from some kind of violence the child is exposed to in their house? It could be a combination of a lot of things.”
Experts feel that somewhere the media is also to be blamed. The kind of movies and web series that kids are exposed to is not appropriate as there is glorification of sex and violence.
Conversations on sex or adult talk among teenagers are not something new, but horrific objectification, sharing photographs of minors and no fear in discussing gangrapes have started giving parents and girls nightmares.
Rewari says that kids these days have access to incomplete information or too much information which is inappropriately absorbed by a young adult.
“The parents need to spend quality time with children and have open access to their phones thereby helping them know what is on their child’s mind and if there is a change in the pattern of his/her behaviour," she added.
The parents can even ask their kids not to lock their phones, particularly at a time when such chats are doing the rounds, she said. "Only this can prevent recurrence of such an incident in future," she said.
Besides parents, Rewari says, schools should also include sex education in their curriculum, in their moral class or life skill classes.
On Wednesday, a school student was detained by the Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police in connection with the "#BoysLockerRoom" controversy.
The police said they have identified almost all the 21 group members and they will be examined.
The mobile phone of the apprehended student has been recovered and it is also being examined, said Delhi Police Cyber Cell.