Corporal punishment and constant reprimanding by teachers can seriously dent a student's self-esteem and even develop phobia for a particular subject, said counsellors and school students at a panel discussion here Thursday.
"Comments like 'you are useless' and 'a special school needs to be made for you' by teachers can hurt a student much more than what appears on the face. In the confines of his/her room, the student keeps thinking of the comment," said Tina Sharma, a class 8 student, participating in the discussion.
"Not only do such comments in front of the whole class pinch an adolescent's ego but may also make him develop a fear for that subject because he then starts believing that he actually is not good in it," she added.
Raj Mehra, a class 7 student, added: "When you hear about students committing suicide, it's not a result of an one-off incident. Continued rebuking in public, stress at class and at home all have a deep impact on a student's mind".
Sameer Dalwai, development pediatrician and a child law consultant, who was on the panel agreed with Tina Sharma's comments. He said a child developing low confidence level because of being continually hit at home or in school, or even being scolded, has a scientific explanation to it."
"Children, when they are in school, are in a stage of development. Their minds are impressionable and can be moulded in any way you want to. At this stage, if he/she is always scolded, rebuked in public or hit, deep scars develop and they will just compound with time," Dalwai said.
Giving an example, Dalwai said quite often it's the same set of children who get punished at school, thus proving that beating or scolding does not help in "straightening" the child.
"Corporal punishment can only induce confusion, rejection, pain and insecurity and nothing else. To discipline a child, it's better to talk firmly with a child and explain why he or she is wrong. And if you have a set of rules, make sure that you stick to it."
"It's often that children are being spoken to, and not spoken with. The reverse trend should be inculcated to have a healthy environment where children grow in," Dalwi said.
In relation to creating a healthier environment for kids to grow up in school, Anita Kaul, joint secretary of the department of education and literacy in ministry of human resource development, said: "The bill for the right of children to education, along with the recommendations, was tabled in parliament yesterday (Wednesday) and I hope it is passed in this session."
"The bill, among other things, talks about no board exams to be conducted until the end of elementary education, heavily penalising those schools demanding donation and prohibiting school teachers from taking private tutions - all in purview of making education accessible to all and making learning a joyful experience," Kaul, also one of the panelists, said.