When the editors’ team met in July 2010 to discuss the content of the new edition the discussion turned to the number of suicides by young people reported daily in newspapers. After the fever of annual examinations for schools and colleges which are held in April and May across the country results start coming in by June. Local media and television channels now begin to chase the success stories of those students who make it to the top ten, or fifteen or fifty. One reads about their hopes and ambitions, the parental pride, the recognition and rewards. Within a couple of days the other stories begin to appear, the report of number of suicides across the country by young people who fail examinations or fail to achieve the high level of marks needed for further education.

The editors felt a strong need to sensitize parents, teachers and administrators to the palpable reality of fear experienced by young people, their helplessness, their suffering and strategies for survival. Consequently, this issue of the Journal of Krishnamurti Schools (No. 15) has a special section on Fear.

Four articles in the journal examine fear—children’s fear, the fear felt by children on leaving school, the fear that teachers experience, and dealing with emotions that are part of our ‘inner landscape’, as it were.

As part of this exploration, a questionnaire was sent to several schools, government, private, urban, rural across states requesting that students between the ages of twelve and sixteen respond to the following questions:

  • What are the things that you are afraid of?
  • Recall one or two situations that have made you worried, nervous or afraid.
  • How did you feel when you were experiencing the above? Do you remember what happened in your body and in your mind? (Try to recollect and describe these here.)
  • What did you do when you were afraid?
  • The response received to this questionnaire was overwhelming, detailed and often graphic.

We have used this data to put together a resource package containing the following:

A Poster
A poster where we can see and hear the objects of children’s fears and how they feel when they experience them.

A Series of Four Booklets
These relate to four different sets of fears which troubled children the most: the first which is almost universal has to do with exams and tests and the future, the second to people-related fears—parents, teachers and peers, the third deals with the fear of insects and animals and the fourth with death and loneliness. In each one the student describes the object of his or her fears in certain situations, followed by physical and psychological changes which could be recalled. Finally there is an account of how each student dealt with a particular fear. The voices and the language are those of the children with minor editing for clarity.

At the end of each booklet we have put together a set of questions which we hope will help teachers, students, parents and administrators to look at a situation together with sensitivity and affection for each other. We hope that the questions will help to open up and sensitize all of us to this difficult area in our relationship with each other. They are merely a starting point and we are sure that different groups will bring their own energy, creativity and imagination to the discussion.

Finally there are brief quotations from J Krishnamurti which uncover the various layers under which our fears lurk to reveal what lies underneath.

A Set of Cards
Each card describes on one side a situation of fear experienced by a child. These can be used to create empathy and understanding among the students and adults. On the flip side are possible activities that children, parents and teachers could do, ponder over and talk about in groups. We are sure that this interaction will result in many more such activities which will encourage these groups to keep these questions alive.