- Teachers can avoid corporal punishment, but...
New methods of punishment
BENGALURU: In a case reported with the Child Help Line in Chamarajnagar district, a woman teacher tried to manage a talkative little girl in her class by plastering the child’s mouth for more than an hour even as the little child’s hands were tied behind her back all the while. Following a complaint, the Child Help Line authorities took up the case with the school management and warned the teacher.
If this case reads more like a torture scene straight out of a movie, please consciously note that the victim of the torture here is a mere child.
Corporal punishment (or physical punishment) aims to cause physical pain on a person “to teach him/her a lesson”, and is mostly practised on minors, especially in home and school settings, the most common methods being spanking, slapping, caning or even being made to stand for a long duration to face humiliation in front of others. Unfortunately, despite corporal punishment being banned in schools across the country, most schools in the state are still practising it.
Complaints received at Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) and Child Help Line (CHL) (1098) show how rampant corporal punishment at our schools is: The commission received at least 21 complaints related to corporal punishment in schools during 2017 (till November) while Child Help Line receives at least two calls per week reporting the same.According to officials working with CHL and KSCPCR, some schools have invented novel methods to punish while others favour the use of the cane.
Nagasimha G Rao, director, Child Rights Trust (CRT), who also works with CHL, says, “Majority of the schools, especially in a city like Bengaluru, are resorting to corporal punishment. The kind of cases we are receiving at CHL are examples of that.”
Although corporal punishment cases are getting reported, students and parents fear filing complaints against the school or the guilty teacher. “They fear their child will be discriminated against. But, in such cases, children are mentally affected,” said Nagasimha.
Corporal punishment is prohibited under Section 17 of the Right to Education Act (RTE), and it has been incorporated in the Juvenile Justice Act which prescribes a three-year jail term for the accused teacher.
Although there are several laws and acts to protect children, the rights of children are being targeted by schools and teachers through corporal punishment, say experts. People associated with NGOs working for children in the city highlighted a recent survey report by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which revealed that 30% of the kids are exiting schools every year due to corporal punishment.
“The finding of the survey is shocking. Not just out of school, some children are becoming runaway kids. In some cases, where even parents are strict at home, kids don’t share what they are undergoing at school. They simply choose to run away to avoid corporal punishment,” explains Gopinath, managing trustee of Sparsha Trust, which works for street children in the city.
IT CAN LEAVE A SCAR
Corporal punishment not just leaves a physical scar, but it affects the kids psychologically, say child psychiatrists.
Dr Anupama who is a visiting counsellor for several schools in the city, said, “I have come across a case recently where a child refused to come to school and wanted his parents to change the school. When they brought the kid to me, I got to know that it is because he was punished by his class teacher. The teacher made him stand on the bench in front of the class as he caught napping during class. Following the humiliation, he become psychologically weak and did not want to go to the school. Later we managed to convince him and also arranged a one-to-one meeting with the class teacher and advised not to take such measures.”
Recently, a city-based school affiliated to the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) board, was accused of resorting to corporal punishment. The principal-cum-Secretary of the school allegedly slapped the Class 4 boy when ink spilled from his pen and damaged the uniform of his classmate. Following the incident, the class teacher took the boy to the principal where the latter slapped the kid. When the parents were summoned and they questioned the school authorities, the latter allegedly attacked them and the child was rusticated . Later, the parents approached KSCPCR.
In another case reported from a school in Whitefield in Bengaluru, a teacher had allegedly branded the child’s legs for not doing homework. In this case, the parents even filed a police complaint, but it was withdrawn later following an apology issued by the accused teacher.
In a school located in Vasanthnagar, a mathematics teacher allegedly slapped a Class 5 child resulting the child losing two teeth.
Cases of corporal punishment are reported even from pre-schools/play homes where kids are pinched and beaten up. In a recent case filed with KSCPCR, a three-and-a-half-year-old girl reported with bruises and marks on her hand; and as mentioned by parents in the complaint, she sustained marks which were visible for three days.
Methods of corporal punishment
l Slapping kids
l Making them run 10-20 rounds of playground
l Asking them to stand near the board, shamed in front of other kids
l Kneeling down
l Beating them with a scale or a cane
l Making them sit alone
l Locking inside classroom or in bathroom
Students vulnerable to corporal punishment when they
l Come late to school
l Resort to bad behaviour
l Don’t complete homework
l Score less marks
l Lose concentration in class
l Turn talkative or naughty in class
l Disturb other kids
l Hurting other kids
l Flick things belonging to others
Defence for the teachers?
D Shashi Kumar, general secretary, Karnataka Associated Management of Primary and Secondary Schools, says, “After the ban on corporal punishment, even a minimum positive approach is treated as corporal punishment. School managements are facing severe disruption in this matter. It has become a challenge to protect children from other children. Even if a teacher scolds kids with a good intention, students complain of punishment. Teachers are stressed out and are leaving their jobs.” Following this, the association has submitted a memorandum to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, asking for some sort of solutions or guidelines even for schools on how to protect children from other children.
Why teachers resort to corporal punishment?
According to psychiatrists and teacher trainers, the main reasons are stress and disturbed personal life of teachers, besides lack of adequate training training to manage the kids.