In a tweet, Gouri said that slut shaming, casteism, bullying, body shaming and so on were common in schools.

Actor Gouri KishanInstagram/ Gouri G Kishan
Flix Child sexual abuse Thursday, May 27, 2021 - 16:03

In the light of allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour levelled against a teacher working at a branch of Chennai’s Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan (PSBB) School, several alumni as well as current students of many schools have come forward to share similar experiences. Following the cases of misconduct reported in PSBB, 96 fame actor Gouri Kishan too has stepped forward to share details about the experiences she faced during her years of schooling in Hindu Senior Secondary, Adyar, Chennai. In a social media post, the actor alleged that the staff in her school indulged in slut shaming, bullying, body shaming, character assassination, practising casteism, and put forth baseless accusations against students and objectified them. She also noted that such behaviour was normalised in the school.

Speaking to TNM, the actor confirmed that some teachers in the school had promoted a toxic culture. However, she clarified that she had never faced sexual abuse and hence the abuse she faced is not similar to the allegations made by PSBB students and alumni. Explaining how children cannot be expected to distinguish between what’s right and what’s not, Gouri noted that schools are supposed to serve as safe spaces and nurturing ground for students. “However, you are judged by the faculty for choices like wearing your uniform chudidar a certain way, wearing a ponytail to school or a dangly earring or kajal to school. These are said to be done to distract boys and one's upbringing is questioned. These are scarring imprints on a child’s life, including myself. A lot of us have faced it firsthand,” Gouri told TNM.

Gouri also posted about the issue on social media, drawing attention to many students facing childhood trauma in their formative years due to the pressure mounted on them by school administrations. “In light of the recent expose on PSBB for harassment and misconduct, I'd like to put forward that my schooling in Hindu Senior Secondary, Adyar was hugely problematic too! After speaking to several of my schoolmates about the same, we've all come to a collective realization that there was a great deal of ingrained normalising that had taken place in the school environment. Slut shaming, Casteism, Bullying, Body Shaming, Character Assassination, Objectification, baseless accusations thrown at students, consequentially having a profound impact on a child's self esteem. Most of us from HSSS, myself included, have faced all of the above, first hand. it pains me to think of the number of students like myself who have been put through so much agony! Schools are supposed to be a nurturing ground for a student, not a place you fear of being labelled and branded for your worth,” Gouri shared with followers on Twitter.

ALSO READ: PSBB suspends teacher accused of sexual harassment  

Elaborating on the instances she faced, Gouri shared with TNM that she was under scrutiny by the school staff for being friends with people of the opposite gender. “I was accompanied by a male friend while commuting between my school and home in the suburban train. I received multiple complaints from the staff, comments were passed, and they spoke to my parents although their accusations were baseless,” the actor stated.

Citing another instance, that actor said, “I was cultural secretary in my school. They assumed that I’m spearheading a platform that is being used as a breeding ground for relationships or unwanted friendships. They indulged in character assassination and passed judgements, without engaging in a healthy discourse.”

Proposing a solution, Gouri suggested, “Essentially, teachers and faculty members should be held accountable for the kind of discourse and dialogue that they initiate in school. What they might think as a passing comment may lead to a scarring imprint on a child. Consequentially, the childhood trauma lingers on till adulthood. This has to be nipped in the bud. The environment in schools needs to be healthier, less toxic, less problematic, and promote effective communication.”

Similarly, in her social media post the Karnan actor stressed on the impact childhood trauma could have on one’s mental health during adulthood and urged students to come forward and share their experiences so that the issue can be taken up formally against the school administration. This would ensure that students in the forthcoming batches aren’t subjected to similar behaviour from staff and faculty members and ensure that we put an end to the ingrained conditioning and normalising of abusive behaviour.

“Honestly, at this point, I'm genuinely shocked that in spite of the messed up schooling, many of them turned out quite alright but childhood trauma (especially unresolved ones) run deep, and is proven psychologically that it is the reason behind several issues we face in adulthood too. Having recalled this unpleasantness has been traumatic but a huge burden off my chest. Now I wish, more of you come out with your personal accounts in order to take this up with the school administration formally, so that we can at least hope that the forthcoming batches don't face similar abuse!I hope this gains more traction so that we don't stand witness to another generation of students growing up in toxic school environments. Do use the hashtag and share your personal experiences, your identity will remain anonymous! This ingrained conditioning and normalising has to STOP now!” Gouri tweeted on Tuesday.

ALSO READ: ‘They knew, and they didn’t care’: Chennai schools’ #MeToo moment   

ALSO READ: Chennai schools #MeToo: Kamal Haasan says don't make it a caste issue   

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