There has been a sharp rise in number of victims of corporal punishment in India as several brutal incidents are being reported in the city and across the nation. Regardless of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, that prohibits ‘physical punishment’ and ‘mental harassment’ under Section 17(1) and makes it a punishable offence, children remain unsafe in both schools and homes. Corporal Punishment as defined by The Committee on the Rights of the Child frames it as a degrading practice of any physical punishment purposively to cause some pain or discomfort, however light, mostly includes smacking, slapping or spanking children with hand or with an implement which often lead to grave physical and mental injuries, and in some cases even death. The reason being teachers are neither trained nor aware of adapting to modern teaching practices.
While The Child Rights Charter 2003 of India specifically states “all children have a right to be protected against neglect, maltreatment, injury, trafficking, sexual and physical abuse of all kinds, corporal punishment, exploitation, violence and degrading treatment,” children are not even protected at home. Incidences of corporal punishment are evident as a tool to discipline children and as a normal action when a mother smacks her son trying to stop his tantrum, when a father or an elder one shakes a child because he/she has hit another child and when a kid is hit for answering back.
So, how does it affect those innocent souls? Most importantly, these ‘light’ punishments in infancy, tend to escalate as the child grows older. Being terror-stricken, children often condone the violence and show signs of deep hurt in their behaviour that often goes unnoticed. Aggression breeds aggression.
Shraddha Shah Raikar, founder of CATS LC said, “What is discipline? People mistake it as a method to get kids to do what you want them to do. But we are educators not dictators. Discipline is providing an environment in which positive teaching and learning occur simultaneously. Teachers should remain firm with children and not stern. They should adopt a positive body language and maintain eye contact and get down physically to the child’s eye level. Children only learn from people they like therefore building a bond helps immensely in getting through. Explaining to the child the right from the wrong gives them an opportunity to change rather than physically punishing them.”
“Many a times we hear stories of a children being assaulted in schools. As a result of this they become frightened and might avoid attending schools. The child might lose confidence in himself and teacher. Hitting a child in the school makes him feel insecure and frightened which will hinder his overall growth. He will become emotionally unstable and will commit more mistakes. Teachers should instill moral values among students and build a happy and healthy atmosphere in school,” said Suchitra Shah Bhide, Counselling Psychologist.