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My phone beeped. It was a mail notification. We have an apartment email group where I receive a hundred odd emails every day. From ‘Hindi speaking maid available’ to ‘Kid’s scooter gone missing’, these emails follow me like drones. I thought it must be one of these and did not read it for long. When I finally read it, I was in for a shock.

I’d gotten two consecutive emails with similar problems. Eve-teasing. Or, the more appropriate language would be sexual harassment. We live in a safe, secure, high-end, gated community. There are hazaar security cameras around our place which captures everything including which dog poos and pees where. Yet, there are two cases of sexual harassment inside our campus. If this can happen in a monitored environment like ours, it has every probability that it can happen on the road every day of our lives. In this case, an adult was involved and it was highlighted. What if it was a small child being harassed? You know, ours is a ‘safe and secure gated community’ to let kids wander about, right? Shudder.

What is more shocking is my own reaction to the emails. One email was about two men leering at and passing some filthy comments about a woman. The first reaction of mine was to just brush it off casually with a ‘aah.. these are not so uncommon; they happen all the time’. After that fleeting moment, even I was disgusted with myself. Does seeing and facing such things every day make us immune to it? Just reverse the scenario. A woman leers at and passes filthy comments at a man for no fault of his. Will he take it as lightly as we women do? Will they still be calling it eve teasing and brushing it off just like that?

There were so many emails in support of the woman but almost everyone pointed to the drivers, cleaners and the security as being responsible for such behavior. Why do we always blame the people from the lower strata of the society for sexual crimes? Isn’t this also stereotyping? It could’ve been, for all that you know, an educated five-figure earning owner of an apartment, who could’ve done the crime, right? I happened to read this piece on ‘Learning Respect, From Scratch’ and my conviction that education has nothing to do with good behaviour only kept increasing.

I am appalled by the kind of children we are raising. But hey, first let us point our finger at ourselves. Are we behaving the way we want our children to be? Are we treating our women at home like how we want our kids to treat women outside? Heck, are we even talking to our kids about all this in the first place? The problem is that, these days, we leave our kids a lot to their gadgets; operative word being ‘a lot’. We claim we need our ‘me’ time and distract them with gadgets. I agree we need our time, but are we spending, what is that term, yes, ‘quality’ time with our kids?

This could be a digression but it is very important that we to talk to them about how every living creature deserves to be respected. Men. Women. Dogs. Cats. Plants. Children. The tone and the intention matter more than just the aap or neenga. My blood literally boils when kids talk to shop keepers like they own them. When, kids are ruthless and use filthy language with the security people. When, maids are treated like a piece of crap by both parents and kids. We need to make our kids understand that just like how we go to work and expect to be respected, so do they. Nothing more. Nothing less.

For me, the biggest favor we will do to our kids is just spend time with them. Listen to them. Understand their point of view. Talk to them. Give our perspective. And, help them ponder about it. The least we can do to this big bad world is to stop contributing to its badness. And that can happen only by raising nicer and respectful children.