Metrolife: Schools, please note: beating not OK even if parents approve

Last Updated 06 June 2018, 18:39 IST

After the suicide of a 12-year-old boy in Kolkata, the government clamped down on corporal punishment in schools.

Rouvanjit Rawa killed himself in February 2010, days after he was humiliated and caned by the principal of his school, La Martiniere.

The Centre then issued guidelines to schools, holding to account principals and teachers. Corporal punishment now attracts a fine of Rs 50,000 and imprisonment of up to three years.

Most schools in the city reopened on June 1. Many parents in Bengaluru continue to support beating to discipline students, oblivious to the dangers of physical force.

Shreevalli Prasad, guest relations manager and mother to 14-year-old Dhanush and 12-year-old Grishm, says if a child has ignored the teacher’s warnings, corporal punishment is all right.

“The child should be given a chance to improve. But after repeated warnings, it is not wrong to hit the child by hand or with a scale,” she says.

Flinging or throwing objects at students is a strict no-no, she adds. “If the student ducks, the object might hit another child,” she reasons.

Mother to five-year-old Jai Adithya, Veena Anand feels not all children respond to punishment the same way.

“Raising one’s voice or hitting with the hand is acceptable but physically punishing them to a point where there is a deep injury is not,” says Veena, customer care executive at a hospital.

The problem persists in many schools, but many principals are aware of the legal implications, and discourage corporal punishment.

Sumangala Jayapal, principal of Kairalee Nilayam Central School, is against the idea. “When warnings do not work, we call the parents and discuss the problem with them. Punishments come in the form of writing impositions five or 10 times. Another form of punishment is restricting the child from physical training and assigning some academic work,” she says.

Aloysius D’Mello, principal of Greenwood High, says corporal punishment is unacceptable.
“All children are naughty. We need to speak to them. Teachers at our school are stern but not rude. Instead of using words like ‘Shut up’ or ‘Keep quiet’, they ask the students if their behaviour is appropriate. Children get the message.”

How it affects kids

Dr Safiya M S, a psychiatrist with Mind and Brain Clinic, says, “In our country, we are used to corporal punishment. Instilling fear to explain things is common here. Fear is a mechanism most parents are all right with. But in the bigger picture, fear is not something a child should have.”

Corporal punishment can affect children differently. “Some children are more sensitive than others. Out of 10, two children might get deeply affected. Many grow up to believe they
deserve to be beaten up or physically harmed,” she says.

“Of the cases I see, in the age group of 5 to 18 years, about 20 to 30 per cent are scarred by how a teacher addressed them at school. From refusing to eat to alienating themselves, their behavioural patterns change,” adds Dr Safiya.

Student blinded

A teacher in Chamarajnagar district of Karnataka flung a stick at a student for creating a racket in class. The stick poked him in the eye and affected his eyesight.

Recently in Bengaluru

Shashank (see pic left), a student of Narayana E-Techno School, Vidyaranyapura, was hit by his teacher in April for being ‘notorious in class’.

Parents were furious, and CCTV footage of the beating made it to television and social media. The school management terminated the teacher and offered to pay for the student’s medical expenses.

The parents approached a court and the teacher was arrested.

“We have strict policies and each teacher signs a form when he or she joins. It was unfortunate that such an incident happened,”

Veena, Dean of Narayana E-Techno School, Vidyaranyapura.

Curious kids

Aloysius D’Mello, principal of Greenwood High says, “Today’s children are more inquisitive than earlier generations. Teachers tend to lose their patience, which results in unfortunate incidents. Teachers need to be trained to listen.”

(Published 06 June 2018, 13:34 IST)

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