Pervert action

Punishment of drinking her own urine that a hostel warden in Patha Bhavan School in Shantiniketan meted out to a 10-year old girl shows that corporal punishment continues unabated in our schools, despite its ban. The girl had a problem of bed-wetting. The warden apparently ordered her to drink her urine to make her “stop the bad habit.”  The child’s parents have alleged that the warden squeezed urine into the child’s mouth from the bed sheet. While denying this, the warden claimed that she only made the child lick the mattress. Either way, she was in the wrong. First, bedwetting is a paediatric problem, sometimes related to psychological or physical issues. More often than not, it is a question of delayed development. Punishing the child will not stop bed-wetting. On the contrary, it could trigger trauma and anxiety that in all likelihood will worsen the problem.  Besides, this was a disgusting, even perverted form of punishment. It could have implications for the child’s health. Even shocking is the police’s response. Not only did cops book the warden under bailable charges and not the Juvenile Justice Act, but also they arrested the girl’s parents.

Physical and other abuse of children in schools, all in the name of disciplining them, is widespread in India. There have been instances of children dying or even committing suicide after they were humiliated in front of the class or made to sit in ‘murga’ position for hours in the blazing sun. With the incident at Shantiniketan, corporal punishment in India has touched a new level of perversion. The incident at Shantiniketan shows that banning corporal punishment hasn’t worked to stop it. This is partially because there is little awareness of the ban. Moreover, police have not done enough to punish the guilty. Perhaps because they use torture and violence freely, they see nothing perverted in teachers doing it. Moreover, there is widespread belief in this country that punishing or ‘disciplining’ a child is not a bad thing. An occasional thrashing, many parents will say, will make the child perform better in class. Such thinking is outdated and utter nonsense.

School authorities must provide training to teachers and parents on child-friendly means of persuasion. Teachers who continue with abusive behaviour should be dismissed. There must be zero-tolerance for abuse, humiliation or perverted treatment of children. The ugly incident at Shantiniketan has caused widespread outrage. We must act on that outrage. 

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