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‘Blue Whale’ in Himachal – Reminder why trained counselors in schools has become a necessity now

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blue whale game in Himachal

The appearance of a case related to controversial Blue Whale game in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh has sounded the alarmed among the parents. A 12-years-old boy was luckily rescued after his parents discovered signs of self-mutilation on his hand.

So far, Himachal Watcher refrained from covering the Blue Whale Phenomenon as we felt bound by the ethics of reporting news relating to suicide. The news channels and dailies did what exactly the creator of this concept wanted from them – creating more curiosity in vulnerable subjects through sensational coverage. Numerous stories were published using some sensational images showing a whale drenched in blood or something like that.

From our sources, we were told that schools are implementing the advisory in a haphazard manner which is doing nothing else but to create more curiosity among children, especially teens.

Until now, the awareness about mental health and relevance of trained counselors were entirely missing from schools as a necessity to deal with complex teenage issues. For instance, not many of us are aware that the World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 is observed on September 10 every year to create necessary awareness. There is a reason why the world needed to dedicate a special day to attend to the issue. It’s preventable.

So, we feel obliged to take part in the debate to introduce some more aspects.

First of all, it is not exactly a game that can be downloaded and installed in devices. Bullying and pressurizing participants to complete the task are major parts of this concept. The participants receive a link through one of the social media. As suggested by some tech-forums, the participants are asked to accept a cookie that allows the curator to access entire data of the device being used by the participant.

Secondly, Blue Whale is not the only name by which this concept has spread to the social media. The same concept is being adapted under different names. There could be a number of such groups. 

After several incidents in some parts of India, the appearance of a case related to controversial Blue Whale game in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh has sounded the alarmed among the parents. A 12-years-old boy was luckily rescued after his parents discovered signs of self-mutilation on his hand.

The boy said he wanted to quit the game but he could not. He received threats from the curator or the admin. The boy said the curator warned him that if he doesn’t accomplish the tasks assigned, his parents or family members would be harmed.

The fear was instilled so strongly in the victim child that he did not dare to speak to his parents.

The disclosure by the rescued boy that more of his friends are hooked to this lethal challenge has sent waves of panic among parents. At the same time, media reporting is fueling curiosity in masses. The advisories issued to children and their parents by the police and the schools are also doing the same.

People, government, and web experts are feeling helpless against this psychological trap of the ‘deep web’. The psychologists are suggesting the curators does not pick up its prey randomly, but from a targeted section that is more vulnerable. Apart from access to the digital world, the mental health of teens requires close attention here.

Now, the government of India is issuing advisories in the schools asking them to create awareness against the suicidal game. The government has connected to the social media sites asking them to act and take preventive measures. In fact, social media sites are working on it as the number of cases reported is now in three figures.

However, the parents and schools are required to pay more attention to the psychology behind the concept that is believed to have originated from Russia. A Russian man was reportedly convicted for inventing the concept or spreading it to suicide groups. Recently, another curator, a Russian girl, was reportedly arrested. 

Psychology behind the concept

It sounds stupid and unbelievable that a person could convince or control someone through a psychological manipulation or through threats to complete abnormal tasks and end his/her life by the time the series of task reaches its final stage. In India, psychology has not received the amount of attention it deserves in the society. Even most costly or prestigious schools do not have a regular counselor, which supports the aforesaid statement.

Majority of experts in the field of psychology suggest not all children or teens are vulnerable to this threat. The teenage period is marked by high-risk taking behavior. The experts also link it with poor mental health, depression, and pre-existing tendencies towards self-destruction or inclination to harm one’s own self. Teens with depression, low-esteem, identity conflicts, emotional breakups, and those with traumatic experiences including child abuse are more prone to fall victim to this game, say experts.

Sadly, schools are not providing professional counselors, who could prove much better in observing these indicators in a child during school hours as well as creating awareness among other teachers and parents. There is a huge difference between the role of a teacher and that of a trained, skilled psychologist.

Children, especially teens go through tremendous behavioral changes during teenage- a natural process. Teenagers strive to establish their individual identity in their friend circle. They tend to assess their importance in their circle. Introverts and those with low-esteem or low level of achievements often face an identity crisis

, said Ranjana Sharma, a scholar pursuing her research related to the “Quality of Life” from Department of Himachal Pradesh University.

It sounds impractical for teachers to attend to each individual student in their class or identify such cases. Moreover, we must accept that the new generation gets hooked to electronic devices like mobiles and the Internet from a tender age. Their exposure and access to the world are far greater than the previous generation,

she said adding,

This exposure requires to be channelized through proper guidance as it is impractical to put a complete check on it.

Nowadays, the teens are more tech-savvy than their parents, which makes it difficult for parents to monitor what exactly their children doing on their smartphones and laptops, she added. 

The description of the Blue Whale concept, methods, and design of tasks suggest enhancing already existing tendencies by creating an illusion that someone is being part of something daring. The participants are first conditioned to follow an abnormal routine like waking up at odd hours (between 2 AM to 4 AM), watching depressing videos sent by the curator, climbing up a building, to stand on the edge of the roof, or listen to gloomy music tracks at a particular time.

A survivor said he was asked to go to the graveyard at 2 PM and send a selfie as evidence that task was completed. Self-inflicted injuries are given a form of an act of punishing oneself, suggest psychologists.

The best prevention here appears to be giving more time to your children, at least enough to observe changes in their behavior, if any. The advisories are asking parents to reach a counselor if they observe symptoms like isolation, withdrawal from routine activities, and a decrease in the time that their children used to spend with them or the appetite.  

If a child is already an introvert, then it must be ensured that he gets more time from parents to express his emotions. A friendly relationship would help bridge the communication gap between the teens and their parents.  

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Proposed HPBOSE Date-Sheets for 8th, 10th, 12th Exams 2021 Issued, Objections Invited till Feb 10

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HPBOSE Exam Datesheet 2021

Shimla-Date-sheets for Class 10, 12, and 8 yearly examinations for the 2020-21 session have been released by the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education yesterday. These schedules would apply to both regular and State Open School (SOS) students. 

These are proposed date-sheets, which have been uploaded on the official HPBOSE website and objections have been invited from teachers, students, and parents. Objections can be mailed on www.hpbose2011@gmail.com till 10 February 2021.

According to the proposed HPBOSE date-sheets, examinations for 10th class would be held from May 5 to May 20, 2021. For 12th class, exams would be held from May 4 to May 29. Exams for 8th class would be held from May 5 to May 19. While timings for class 10th and 8th would be 8:45 to 12 PM, class 12th exams would be conducted from 1:45 PM to 5 PM.

The Board has already decided that yearly examinations of HPBOSE for Class 10th and 12th for the session 2020-21 would not be conducted online. The decision was taken considering the fact that several regions of the state do not have Internet connectivity due to which students face difficulties.

HPBOSE Class 12 Date-Sheet 2021

HPBOSE Class 10 Date-Sheet 2021

HPBOSE Class 8 Date-Sheet 2021

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Campus Watch

Class 10th and 12th Yearly Exams Will Not be Conducted Online Due to Lack of Uniform Internet Connectivity in State: HPBOSE

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hp bose board exams 2020-21

Dharamshala-Yearly examinations of Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education (HPBOSE) for Class 10th and 12th for the session 2020-21 will not be conducted online, informed Dr Suresh Kumar Soni, Chairman, HPBOSE. The decision was taken considering the fact that several regions of the state do not have Internet connectivity due to which students face difficulties, he said.

It was decided after the Chairman held a video conference with Deputy Directors and school principals/headmasters to discuss the matter relating to the conduction of examinations.

He also informed that due to the pandemic schools remained closed and the Board could not conduct online practical exams and said that it is considering to allow the schools to conduct them at their level.  Further, to avoid crowding at schools, exams would be conducted in morning and evening sessions and more examination centres would be created. He informed that the Board is also considering to provide question papers for 5th, 8th, 9th, and 11th classes to maintain uniformity in examinations across the state.  

Various aspects related to various classes are under consideration and would be forwarded to the Education Minister Govind Singh Thakur, he said. In accordance with Minister’s directions, the Board would try to resume regular examinations, the Chairman added.

Further, he informed that the Board is conducting examinations for 12th class (Science) in March 2020 and has invited applications from candidates. The candidates can apply online through nearest SOS centre between 28th December to 28th January.

HP SOS Examination Eligibility Criteria

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Himachal Shuts Down All Educational Institutes A Week After Re-Opening 

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Himachal Pradesh Educational Institutes closed again

Shimla-A week after re-opening for regular classes, the Himachal Pradesh Government had to shut down all government and private schools, colleges, ITIs, polytechnics, engineering colleges and coaching institutes from 11th to 25th November 2020, for students, teaching and non-teaching staff amid alarming surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

The decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting held on November 10, 2020. It’s pertinent to mention that the state government had re-opened the school for the students of 9th to 12th from November 2. However, during the past few days, hundreds of teachers and several students tested positive in various schools, especially in Mandi district.

Meanwhile, the unpreparedness of the state government came to light as the largest medical facility – IGMC Shimla- ran out of space in isolation wards for COVID-19 patients. It’s packed to full capacity. Reportedly, another dedicated COVID-19 hospital – DDU Shimla- was also running out of space. The government has also failed to establish make-shift hospitals, which it had been promising for the past couple of months. However, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been maintaining in media statements that the government was prepared for all eventualities.

Questions have also been raised over the quality of protective gear provided to health staff as several officials tested positive at a COVID-19 hospital in Mandi district.

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