Principal’s Desk Update – August 2023

  • 18 August 2023

Dear Parents,

Contrary to the Principal’s Desk Update every month that highlighted school achievements, I felt that sharing of issues around safety and security of students was much-needed. 

At Oakridge Gachibowli there is unwavering commitment towards student safety, however our students live in a real world outside of four walls of school and home where potentially unsafe situations can arise. I enlist your support in raising awareness and taking proactive measures to ensure that no harm comes to any of our students in any form or shape. In the fast-paced world, where the young students have a language and acronyms that we are unaware of, it is imperative to become more alert and sensitive to the impact of external influence on our students. I would like to draw attention to some of the threats they may face and how we can together combat the same.

1. Bullying – It is the easiest and yet the most complex threat our students face. Bullying could be done by a single individual or a group of students over a short or long duration for reasons real or perceived. However, the impact of bullying is detrimental to a child’s self-esteem, social interactions, and academic outcomes. Some victims speak out and share while others might become quiet and withdrawn. At school, we follow ‘No Bullying’ policy, and any such incident is treated with utmost strictness. We provide counselling sessions to students in general or specific as required. The role of a parent in such cases is important as they need to discern between being ‘caring and supportive’ or ‘overprotective and worried’. The point here is that bullying is a show of power of one over the other and is prevalent in all spaces small or big. Collectively we need to resist aggression, disrespect, and dominance to ensure we are creating safe space for everyone.

2. Social Media – With a heightened interest that everyone has in social media, it is proving to be one of the big threats that our students are facing today. Social media engages young students through a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic engagement that is both attractive and addictive. The young minds here are unable to comprehend the peril of losing out on organic thinking that is the foundation of human progress. The other side of over engagement is an increasing inability to sift truth from lies, misguided belief system, propaganda to direct their personal choices and misplaced aspirations.

To combat this, we need to create an impact through examples where, as caregivers both parents and educators practice what we expect from our young students. We could engage in a dialogue to question the impact of social media without personal biases or opinions; to encourage young minds to think, inquire and reflect, while keeping them supported with a balanced approach to help them learn to walk the fine line between using the social media for learning and skill acquisition as opposed to frivolous exchanges.

3. Cyber Safety – In the age of AI, I am unsure of the nature and extent of cybercrimes that students could be gullible to. Each day brings a new report that is establishing how vulnerable we all are to intentional and planned harm. As educators and parents, we need to keep a constant vigil on new information and share it post authentication within our communities to ensure awareness and preventive measures. At school we have become a part of a drive by the Cyber Security Cell of Cyberabad Police Station and we have established a Safety Club at school to generate timely awareness for everyone’s safety.

4. Emotional Safety – As the social fabric evolves and relationships get redefined it is important to create emotionally resilient students. By nature, children are endowed with an innate intelligence and coping mechanisms however, the influence of external factors may impact some of our children. We need to be mindful and observant of any such changes in their behavior and patterns and if evident, there would be a need to collaborate with school segment heads – Principal /Coordinators to address the situation immediately and decide on the course of action to scaffold our students and help them become happy and healthy individuals. While the complexity of relationships is a reality, the young mind must be allowed to think freely and guided towards a positive outlook to life.

5. Substance Abuse – The recent media reports have focused on aspects that need reflection on the freedom, both personal and financial, that has been accorded to children without the much-needed preparation to handle the responsibility that freedom must carry along with it. The responsibility to think, evaluate, make right choices and engage in right actions to keep themselves as well as others safe.

While the above challenges are visible, we may be heading towards new ones that are lurking around the corner. There is an imperative need to redirect our actions to create more robust safety processes for our young students.

Let us continue to collaborate to prepare our students to become more conscious and discrete with their choices.

Warm Regards

Ms. Dipika Rao

Principal – Oakridge International School Gachibowli