Has sparing the rod spoilt the child?

With SC banning corporal punishment in schools, teachers are a ‘terrorised’ lot

Corporal punishment was considered an appropriate method for disciplining students. And if recent reports of a child’s arm being fractured post a beating by the teacher are to be believed then the practice continues even today.

But overall with the SC ban on corporal punishment in schools, methods like caning, slapping or making students kneel to implement discipline, have decreased drastically and many teachers believe that they are on the receiving end.

Worse, nowadays teachers are scared of children, after the law was implemented. A government school teacher confesses, “I have been a witness to this behavioural change in students over the last few years. They have become so rude and irresponsible. You cannot imagine how we control our anger. Earlier a  slap set them right but now we are told to calm down even if they call us by weird names on our face! This is ridiculous!”

In a survey conducted by a media house in 2011, 6000 teachers were questioned about the issue of corporal punishment. One in five beli­e­ve that class room behaviour has deteriorated since the abolition of corporal punishment and they believed that the education system would improve with the re-introduction of the same.

“Prohibiting corporal punishment in schools was introduced to reduce the rate of child abuse but a certain amount of threat and capacity for violence is essential for efficient conflict resolution. Engendering respect for authority at an early age is essential for individuals to engage successfully in society and sometimes teachers need to be strict,” says Nina Mehta, a counsellor in a private school of Noida.

Another government school teacher, Amita Dua is bothered by the same concern, “Somebody from my class had stolen a 100 rupee note from a student’s wallet while she was out on lunch. When I started checking everybody’s bag, a particular girl in my class refused to get her bag checked. I repeatedly and very politely kept telling her that even if she has the note, I will not take any action against her. But she started abusing me and threatening me saying that she could have suspended me from the school and that she would tell the principal and even the police how I abused her in front of the whole class. I did not say anything after that. I took out a 100 rupee note from my bag and gave it to the girl who had lost it. I was shaken completely that day. I felt embarrassed and humiliated by a 14-year old kid! What law can possibly fix this?”

“I have been teaching for 25 years now. I have slapped my students many a time. It was never a problem for me. All of them respect me even today. But the strange thing is that now I feel, I am nothing more than a man with a chalk and duster in a class full of irresponsible and carefree children. Supreme Court states that children should not be subjected to corporal punishment in schools and that they should receive education in an environment of freedom and dignity. But in trying not to give children a fearful environment, aren’t they creating the same for the teachers?” asks Mukesh Goel, a private school teacher. Good point.

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