If you are a parent, an educationist, or active on social media, you’ve probably come across this heartbreaking video of a crying child about numbers, her mom trying to teach this little toddler the numbers, while the poor child cries and begs for gentleness. Preeti Vyas dissects what such rampant and mindless sharing of the video can do to the child and importantly reflect about society at large.
The video has been extensively shared and commented on in every whatsapp group I am part of, on all social media. People are angry, disgusted and appalled. This morning I woke up to the news that many cricketers (including captain Virat Kohli) have also shared the video and expressed his shock on instagram. The child’s picture with folded hands is in the print edition of today’s Mid-Day alongside Virat’s. And a famous Canadian of Pakistani origin has shared the video on his Twitter feed saying this is how Indian and Pakistani children are educated. So, needless to say, it’s everywhere.
But please don’t mindlessly, irresponsibly share a video of a crying, distraught child, simply because all it takes is a swift movement of your thumb.
No, my post isn’t about the mother’s terrible approach to learning or how my heart broke for the little girl (I couldn’t even see the whole video; that’s how heart-breaking the child’s anguish was) or even about the harsh education system in India that expects toddlers to know what can be cognitively and developmentally possible only much later.
Do her family or she deserve to be exhibited around, shamed, labeled and passed judgment on by the mob?
No- this post is about why I chose not to share the video, tweet about it or forward it. It is about the irresponsible society we live in. I am shocked, beyond belief, that educated friends haven’t thought twice about clicking on the ‘share’ button. What about the poor child? Do her family or she deserve to be exhibited around, shamed, labeled and passed judgment on by the mob? Do we have permission from the parents authorizing us to share this video? We keep talking about privacy and child rights. Does this little child not have any?
CAST IN STONE
I am not for a moment defending the mother’s actions. If we find someone around us abusing a child in any way- verbal, emotional, physical or sexual, we must stand up without a moment’s hesitation to protect that child. But in this case, our mindless sharing and forwarding is doing the exact opposite of protecting this child’s rights. Imagine her horror when she grows up and learns that this video has been shared x million times (Yes, stuff on the internet NEVER goes away) and reads the vitriolic comments of strangers. Wouldn’t everyone who shared this video be responsible for the trauma she faces then?
RAISE YOUR VOICE
If you must raise your voice to create change in society, do so against the tremendous pressure parents face in getting their child admission in a good school. Against the entrance tests for preschool admission and preparatory classes for these entrance tests (yes, sadly these exist in many of Mumbai’s top schools). Stand up to help parents and caregivers improve their knowledge and insights about effective parenting and teaching techniques. And, if you find someone around you mistreating a child, stand up for that little one, in every and all ways you can.
But please don’t mindlessly, irresponsibly share a video of a crying, distraught child, simply because all it takes is a swift movement of your thumb. It only serves the need of sensationalism and provides opportunity for the slacktivists to feel self-righteous by posting their comments and sharing forward, without creating any real change in society.
Preeti Vyas is the founder of FunOkPlease, a publishing house for children. Views expressed are that of the author’s.