Corporal or physical punishment of children at school in India is almost a cultural feature but isn’t there a better way to discipline a child?
Beating a child into submission is a common practice in our country unlike in the west where a child can call the police at the slightest hint of violence whether in school or at home. Over the years parents have come to understand that beating is not the best way to reform a child. The same cannot be said about school, especially non-private schools in the country.
Even after the Delhi High Court directive to ban corporal punishment in schools, there are reports of children being meted out severe punishments by teachers which at times also results in their death as in the case of the 11 years old municipal corporation student. She was physically hit by her teacher and then made to stand in the scorching sun for two hours. The shock and severity of her punishment landed her in coma and she eventually succumbed to her injuries.
Tried and tested way?
A lot many teachers believe that corporal punishment is a traditional practice of child reformation. According to Ashish Sareen a class IX student, “There is a particular group of children in my class who are neither attentive in class nor do they do their homework properly. They always create ruckus to disrupt the class. This often infuriates the teachers and they slap these students.”
Surekha Bhatnagar, the Biology teacher of the same class says, “I have tried my best not to physically punish children but at times they get on my nerves. I don’t like beating them. They force me to take these extreme measures.”
But one has to consider whether physical punishment actually helps reform the child or does more harm than good. The debate continues.
• Curbs unruly children – Teachers in favour of corporal punishment say that it is an excellent way of reining in rowdy students. They say some children are so stubborn that they can only be controlled and their bad behaviour curbed my meting out bodily punishment.
Others say that corporal children who are subjected to this form of punishment become more resentful and even aggressive.
• Prevents greater evil – Supporters of corporal punishment consider it a potential antidote against such disruptive habits amongst youngsters as stealing, misbehaving with their elders, smoking, drinking, and substance abuse.
Teachers who oppose this practice say that it adversely affects the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) in children. The creative talents in children are also hampered. Corporal punishment also induces an element of fear in the psyche of youngsters. The behaviour of such children becomes abnormal. Further, they are unable to do well in academics and after school activities.
Lethal. sometimes fatal
• Causes injuries – Corporal punishment always causes physical damage no matter how trivial or severe. The physical damage caused to children can really be appalling in nature. Damage can range from simple injuries to fractured limbs, loss of vision and hearing, seizures, and even death. In this respect, corporal punishment should be done away with for the good of all.
• Unacceptable anyways – Nothing can justify this unacceptable practice. Teachers who resort to corporal punishment say that a mild form of this practice is acceptable. However, it is also true that teachers who are incompetent resort to punishment as a forceful means to force children to submit to their will. There are better and non-violent ways of correcting youngsters.
• Mental trauma - The scars of corporal punishment run deep. The psychological impact of corporal punishment is hard to judge and even harder to erase. Such children become disruptive. They lose self-confidence. Also, tendency of depression and suicide in such children increases manifold.
Teachers and parents need to understand these issues and refrain from hitting children. According to Savita Sinha, a child councillor, “Physical punishment is not the best way to discipline children. It is not a corrective measure at all. Rather it only encourages resentment and anger in children.”