KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – Coming on the heels of the upcoming national meeting of principals of schools scheduled to be held at Don Bosco Park Circus, from 28 September, the recent reports from Poland where high school kids were put through a bizarre “initiation rite” which school authorities claim were “innocent fun” calls for serious introspection.
The incident did not finish in the classroom but spilled into the social media network where photos of 13year old boys and girls kneeling and licking what seemed to be “cream” off the knees of a man, whom media claimed to be a priest of the institute. The media furor about this disgusting act, particularly by a popular TV channel had the provincial superior swing into action immediately issuing a Press Release and Public Relations statements, and quelling the public out cry.
Warsaw Provincial Fr Alfred F. Leja said that initiation ceremonies involving a priest with white foam on his knees, with first year pupils kneeling before him, “crossed the boundaries of good taste” and would no longer occur.
Last week (19 September) it was reported that St Dominik Savio (Gimnazjum Salezjańskie) in Lubin, southern Poland had photographs on its web site of 13 year-old pupils kneeling before a priest.
On the Salesian Society web site, the provincial writes that, after reviewing the case, some parts of the ceremony “crossed the border of good taste. In the future, this type of practice […] will be withdrawn from school ceremonies. I express my regret at the suffering of middle school students who have been harmed by the interpretations of this incident.”
Fr T.L from Warsaw adds, “It all happened as the youngsters invented this kind of ceremony… it was their idea, and they devised the scenario to involve the principal of the school. Unfortunately, some of the students’ jokes went too far over the limits and I think the principal’s mind was not exactly active enough at that moment! Especially that the youngsters took pictures and they have put them on the website and on other social networks, as FUN! The local tv (TV Odra), the real sleuth for any kind of sensation, has manipulated the issue transforming it first in the very serious matter. The huge (thousands of signatures on the list!) action taken by the parents, the teachers and the youngsters has stopped the spread… but the negative news was made!
Are our school principals so naïve and social media illiterate? What happened to the good old preventive system where the educators hanged out with the wards whether in the play ground or at recreation? Today, the play field where most students hang out is the “virtual field of the social or new media in cyber cafes. How many principals hang out in the Face Book and Twitter where youth spend time? While young people are busy chatting, tagging and hash tagging, are principals so blissfully media illiterate that they can only flash Black Berry phones and posture iPADs to the PTA meetings… and not be present in the virtual world of the students?