Spare the rod and the child too!

Corporal punishment
Last Updated 14 December 2012, 16:04 IST

The ugly cane is back in some of the schools in the City. At least three cases of corporal punishment were reported here this week.

In the name of disciplining, children were subjected to different forms of punishment — six children bore burn marks on their hands and two others were allegedly beaten up by the teacher –– one for not doing his homework and the other, for using a mobile phone in the classroom.

The Right to Education Act has slapped a blanket ban on corporal punishment. Several schools in the City claim that they don’t punish the children in a harsh way but these incidents have brought to light the fact that corporal punishment continues in some of the schools.

Metrolife asks a few parents and school authorities about the mode of discipline that should be followed in schools. Educationists, parents and child right activists say that an alternative way of disciplining a child would enhance the child’s productivity.

School authorities say that they would prefer talking to children over than resorting
to any sort of corporal punishment. Lakshmi Rao, principal of National Public School in Koramangala, says, “We never scold or beat the children.

Here, children are trained to be disciplined from a young age and our lifeskills programme helps children understand the importance of being disciplined.” Tristha Ramamurthy, director of Ekya Schools in JP Nagar and ITPL, feels children must be told about the consequence of bad behaviour.

“Punishment is out of the question. I think positive reinforcement of good behaviour among children will help. Good conduct by students must be appreciated and this appreciation is sure to motivate other students,” explains Tristha. She says, “Teachers in our school are instructed not to call names and nobody is allowed to touch the child. Teachers must talk with students rather than punish them.”

 Fr Edward Thomas, member, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, says, “Teachers who are incompetent in spending time with children and handling their tantrums must not be recruited. Problematic children must be referred to a counsellor on campus rather than resort to any kind of punishment.”

Edward adds, “Every school must lay clear protocol guidelines for teachers on how to act in problematic situations.” A senior official with the Directorate of Public Instruction says, “A group set up exclusively to monitor and control corporal punishments in schools will go a long way in instilling fear in those who resort to the whip.”

Since children spend most of their waking hours at school, parents think teachers must deal with children in a friendly manner. They feel it helps build a good rapport between the student and the teacher. Roopa, mother of a 10-year old, doesn’t advocate punishment in schools, “Teachers must never be rude to students. There must be a little discipline but that must be enforced with maturity. Rude behaviour will mentally upset the child,” she says.

Anitha, mother of a teenager and a teacher at Buddy’s Nursery, points out that school is the second home of every child. “Children are restless and naughty but punishing them is no answer. If the teachers are harsh, children will fear coming to school. Teachers must strike a balance between disciplining children and giving them freedom,” she wraps up.

(Published 14 December 2012, 13:49 IST)

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