The right no is hit, is also a child’s right. A child is an abridged adult with a right that cannot be abridged. ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’, this phrase has been prevalent in our society since a very long time. It is majorly believed that if a child is not punished for his misdeeds he will end up being a brat or undisciplined. Corporal punishment is just not restricted to the physical form of violence, but encapsulates mental torture such as humiliation, threats, scapegoats, scares and ridiculing a child in any given manner. Usually, infliction of such harm is done on the child dubbed as love and care, and in the best interest of a child, due to which a child never realises the need to report it. The parents often forget, that when they punish their child, they take the responsibility of misbehaviour away from the children and give it to themselves. Corporal punishment violates child rights guaranteed to the children under the Right to Education Act, which prohibits any child being from being subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment.
The problem is deep and serious. As part of their daily lives, children all over India are spanked, slapped, hit, smacked, shaken, kicked, pinched, punched, caned, flogged, belted, beaten and battered by adults – mainly by those whom they trust the most. Such violence may be a deliberate act of punishment or just an impulsive reaction of an irritated guardian or a teacher. In all such cases, there is a breach of fundamental human rights. Respect for humanity and the right to the physical integrity of an individual are universal principles. Yet social and legal acceptance of the physical infliction of pain and other humiliating treatment of children by adults persists in most countries across the world including India. According to a survey conducted in 2007 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in the thirteen states in India, the studies showed that 2 out of every 3 children are physically abused and, every second child faces emotional abuse in some form or another. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) define the Child Rights as the minimum entitlements and freedom that should be awarded to every citizen below 18 years of age regardless of their race, national origin, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, wealth, birth status, disability, and/or other characteristics. All these rights encompass freedom of children and their civil rights, family environment, necessary healthcare and welfare, education, leisure and cultural activities and special protection measures. According to the UNCRC fundamental human rights that should be afforded to the children that suitably cover all civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of every child. The physical form of punishments has shown to hurt a child’s cognitive development. This may certainly be due to the effects of early experiences of stress and fear on their developing brain. Results from neuroimaging studies show that experiencing harsh physical punishment reduces the volume of the brain’s grey matter in areas associated with performance on a scale used to measure intelligence. Punishing a child gives rise to the plethora of harm physical, psychological and educational outcomes.
Such misdoings infringe the various rights guaranteed to the children including their fundamental rights. Corporal punishments interfere the Right to Education Act’s which prohibits any child from being subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment. Article 15(3) of the Indian Constitution mentions the special provisions for children. Article 39(e) safeguards children against abuses and Article 39(f) talks about the opportunities and facilities for children to develop healthily, conditions of freedom and dignified childhood and youth and protection against moral and material abandonment. A child has right to invoke the various sections of the Indian Penal Code to get justice such as the section 352 that talks about the punishment for assault or section 323 and 325 that talk about voluntarily causing hurt. Right of not getting hit is also a child’s right.
There are various other methods of disciplining a child and making them realize about their mistakes other than punishing them physically or mentally. Developing a good rapport with the child from a very early age to be able to talk to them on a personal level as parents. Being vocal about the consequences of the act that the child indulges in also helps the child to differentiate between the right and wrong acts. The method of positive discipline such as rewarding good behaviour and curtailing negative behaviour. Teaching children about how to become responsible, respectful and resourceful inculcates a spirit of self-discipline. Punishing a child might not guarantee discipline but it does guarantee a lost childhood.