Corporal punishment, an official punishment for misbehaviour by school students, involves striking the student a given number of times in a generally methodical and premeditated ceremony. Advocates of school corporal punishment argue that it provides an immediate response to indiscipline and that the student is quickly backed in the classroom, rather than being suspended from school. Opponents believe that other disciplinary methods are equally or more effective. Some regard it as tantamount to violence or abuse. Corporal punishment in public schools is governed by official regulations laid down by governments or local education authorities, defining such things to be used, the number of strokes that may be administered, which members of staff may carry out, and whether parents must be informed or consulted. Depending on how narrowly the regulations are drawn and how rigorously enforced, this has the effect of making the punishment a structured ceremony that is legally defensible in a given jurisdiction and of inhibiting staff from lashing out on the spur of the moment.
A teacher from Andhra Pradesh was caught on camera heartlessly beating three young visually challenged children. This video went viral on social networking sites. He gave an explanation that he wanted to “discipline the students” and their parents had told him that he must put fear in the children so that they study and behave well. In a video that became public, the children can be seen screaming and begging to be spared as he delivered blow upon blow. The video was scary and excruciating to see. God knows, how those children have taken so much pain, and for what?
Earlier, school corporal punishment was quite common practice, which was considered to be an official punishment for misbehaving school students. The punishment is usually administered either across the buttocks or on the hands, with an instrument specially kept for the purpose such as a rattan cane, wooden paddle, slipper, leather strap or wooden yardstick. Less commonly, it could also include spanking or smacking the student in a deliberate manner on a specific part of the body with the open hands, especially at the elementary school level. Most of the old schools of thought even believe in the concept, “the more you cane, more disciplined one can be”. Recently, many students were killed and other psychologically affected by such types of punishments.
The teacher KV Rao, who is also visually challenged, was arrested on Monday along with the school principal. He runs the Greenfield Residential School in Kakinada, over 650 km from the state capital of Hyderabad. The incident reportedly happened on July 19. Who filmed the video using a cellphone is yet not clear. However, thanks to him for exposing the master’s cruelty. In the video, teacher is seen grabbing hold of one of the students and banging his head against the floor. Another adult, not clearly visible in the footage, helps him assault the children, all younger than 10. The National Human Rights Commission has issued a notice to the Andhra Pradesh government after the shocking footage became public. However, NHRC has not done any survey regarding this type of incident at such educational institutions. This school was built on government granted land with the help of donations from big corporates. The badly bruised boys have been admitted to Government General Hospital in Kakinada. The district administration failed to appoint trained staff for the school. This is a recent story which has gone public.
Spare the rod or end up in jail. That’s the latest warning to teachers who resort to corporal punishment. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has issued a new set of guidelines that bans physical punishment of students. First, violation of the ban will invite up to one year in jail, or a fine of Rs. 50,000 or both. For subsequent violations, imprisonment could be extending to 3 years with an additional fine of Rs. 25,000. Heads of schools will be responsible to prevent corporal punishment. Teachers found guilty could be denied promotion, and even increments. A child rights cell was supposed to be set up in all schools where children can lodge a complaint. Apart from this, then Congress government was also working on the final draft of the Prevention of Child Offences Bill where even parents, relatives and neighbours can be punished for hitting children. The draft bill was expected to include not just physical or sexual abuse, but also verbal abuse, molestation and ragging, but so far nothing has been done. Let it be any government either BJP or Congress, these crucial problems were never addressed.
The debate was sparked off by the death of Rouvanjit Rawla in 2012, the 12-year-old who committed suicide in February that year, days after being humiliated and caned by the principal of his school, the prestigious La Martiniere School for Boys in Kolkata. At many instances, corporal punishment has been made light because of involvement of another prestigious school. In the same year, a nine-year-old girl had lost vision in one eye allegedly due to corporal punishment at a private school in Jaipur. Pia Chaudhary, a Class 1 student of Tagore Public School in Jhunjhunu district was beaten by her teacher for not completing her homework. She had sustained injury in one eye which later became critical and the vision in her second eye also got affected. She was operated several times but the vision in one eye had been completely lost. Now the pressure was on her second eye and she had to be in hospital for several months in Delhi and Jaipur. She was being treated for the injury and the infection and she died at the hospital.
15-year-old Mohammed Ismail Hussain was asked to do 100 sit-ups by teachers Mobina Begum and Wahid on September 3, after he was found quarrelling with another student on the school premises of Royal Embassy High School at Madannapet area. After being forced to do sit-ups by the two teachers their son developed fever and died while undergoing treatment.
Every year, there are many children who are victims of corporal punishments, hundreds suffer and few grab attention. Children die with cruelty of parents, teachers or tuition masters. Beating a child to create deterrence is not accepted. The world is progressing so are the studies. Children are adopting modern lifestyle and high-tech educational methods, then why cruelty to them?