Corporal punishment is an accepted way of life in schools across India. Parents don’t bat an eyelid if their children complain of beating. Not unless they are seriously injured or pay for it with their lives.
In the last few years, many children in Delhi have been seriously injured and a few have lost their lives to corporal punishment. The standard government response is to order an inquiry and temporarily suspend the teacher.
“Corporal punishment will not stop unless strict action is taken against the teacher and the school that indulges in beating students,” said Shireen Vakil Miller, Policy and Advocacy Director, Save The Children, an independent child rights organisation working in more than 110 countries.
“There should be criminal procedure against a teacher responsible for loss of life. Such a teacher should be struck off the teaching list for the rest of his/her life,” said Miller.
At present, there is no provision under the law to act against teachers, academicians or parents who use any form of corporal punishment against children.
A ban on corporal punishment has had little affect. A 2007 survey conducted by not-for-profit organisation Plan India found that a stick in every classroom and at least five beatings per class per day was the norm.
Plan India surveyed 1,591 students in 41 government-run schools across four states.
“What is needed is training of teachers to use positive forms of discipline,” said Abdul Mabood, Director, SNEHI, an independent organisation working for adolescent and child rights. “Teachers may have a tough time managing big classrooms, but they cannot use it as an excuse to beat children,” he said.
Regular monitoring of schools was also important.
“There has to be a mechanism for monitoring and reporting incidents of corporal punishment. Schools must have suggestion and complaint boxes,” said Miller.