A school teacher at a government school in Thiruvananthapuram has been booked for sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy with autism. The boy, living with autistic spectrum disorder, had been showing improvement in the last many months, but recently he became very hyperactive, sleepless and uninterested in food. In the last week of July, he revealed to his speech therapist and to his mother that he was being sexually abused and assaulted by his teacher, a man named Santhosh.
“A case has been registered against the teacher for sexually abusing the boy, under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act. The teacher is now absconding,” Sreekaryam Police SHO told TNM.
Dr Priyanka, a speech therapist at the Institute for Communicative and Cognitive Neuro Sciences (ICCONS), said, “His mother said that he had been tearing at his clothes, and was not able to sleep at night.” He initially revealed that someone was touching him inappropriately, and later, when the therapist also asked him about it, the boy revealed his Maths teacher Santhosh’s name.
The accused teacher was reportedly helping the student with extra classes and abused him over a period of several weeks. He also allegedly threatened the boy that he would kill his mother if he revealed what had happened to her. The student also confided in his mother and the therapist, with the help of pictures, how he was abused. He said that during one instance the teacher had hit him with a stick, pushed him into a bathroom and stamped him. The mother remembers her son coming back with muddied pants that day.
“When the police took the boy to the school for getting proof, he showed the staff bathroom and then the Maths teacher’s desk," Dr Priyanka said.
The school's denial
The mother and her brother had taken a video of the boy describing what happened to him. Soon, some teachers of the school came to her house and asked if she had any complaint about Santhosh. This was before the mother had even approached the principal. “Santhosh seems to have told them that he had hit the boy with a stick and the family was going to complain about it. The mother then showed the teachers the video they recorded of the boy. The teachers immediately became defensive of Santhosh and claimed the boy was lying. He is ten and autistic, and they called him a liar. The family is not even from Thiruvananthapuram to have any sort of previous scores to settle with Santhosh. They are from Kannur," Dr Priyanka said.
The mother says that the family had moved to Thiruvananthapuram three years ago for therapy. "He was showing improvement too but this has affected him,” the mother says. The mother says that one day she found him awake in his bed in the middle of the night and saying ‘I am afraid’. "He was a child that loved his food but had stopped taking any after the incident," she said.
When he was taken to the school by the police, he became very scared to see the place he was abused at. “Some of the school staff even came to ICCONS claiming that we are spreading videos to shame the school. They thought that the video the mother took of the boy was shot by a doctor here,” said Dr Priyanka.