Problem of Corporal Punishment Persists in Schools

On Monday, 16 school students in Delhi were locked up in a basement by the management. This is yet another in a long line of instances where schools have been accused of corporal punishment.

The Delhi police on Monday booked a private school management for allegedly locking up 16 students in the basement for five hours due to a delay in the payment of fee.

A case of illegal confinement and cruelty towards child was filed against the management of Rabea Girls Public School in Chandni Chowk, The Hindu reported. The students were rescued by their parents.

A parent said that the room in which the children were confined was hot, humid and did not have any ventilation. They denied a delay in the payment of fee and claimed they had even produced receipts of the payment to the administration, but to no avail.

Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights member Anurag Kunda said an enquiry team would visit the school on Wednesday.

This is yet another in a long line of incidents where schools have been accused of dishing out corporal punishment to their pupils. Even though the practice has been outlawed, it still continues to be a used with impunity across the country.

Just a few days ago on June 30, the headmistress of a government higher primary school in Mangaluru was booked for thrashing students of Class IV because they had not completed their homework. One of the victims, apart from being severely bruised, suffered mental trauma. Based on the victim’s testimony, the police registered a complaint against the headmistress. She was booked under sections of RTE Act 2009 and The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. A report said that in Dakshina Kannada, as many as 62 cases were registered in 2017 for similar offences.

Such disturbing  reports, alarmingly, are coming from all parts of the country.

Earlier this year, another school principal in Jharkhand was booked after forcing 13 students to put their hand over a candle flame. She was trying to determine whether one of the 13 had stolen money from another student. At least seven students – all of them seven years old – sustained burn injuries.

Several incidents where female students were forced to strip as a form of punishment have also been  reported. Students of an all girls’ school in Arunachal Pradesh were forced to undress by three teachers in November 2017. The incident came to light when a local students’ union claiming 88 girls were forced to undress, filed a police complaint.

The warden of a residential girls school in Uttar Pradesh was also accused in March 2017 of forcing her wards to undress. She claimed that she had found blood on the door of a bathroom and wanted to check if any of the students, who were ten years old, had started menstruating. She later denied the incident ever occurred, but several students came forward to state that they were forced to undress.

According to a study by Plan International, an NGO, more than 65% of children in Indian schools said they had received corporal punishment. The report, which was released in 2010, found that the majority of these children attended government schools. Out of the 13 countries which were surveyed by the organisation, India was ranked third in terms of the estimated economic cost of corporal punishment. The study also found that caste and gender discrimination were high in schools.

In November 2017, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) released a set of guidelines outlining the role of school management and teachers in eliminating corporal punishment. One of the guidelines was that workshops must be conducted for teachers, who would be taught positive disciplinary methods.

It is unclear how many schools have held such workshops or if these workshops have helped in reducing the practice of corporal punishment.