“Discipline is helping a child solve a problem, Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions, not retribution.”
– L. R. Knost
SCHOOL – The most primary and fundamental block of learning in a person’s life, are considered to be the most sacrosanct institution of our society. But there is a question that we need to ask ourselves – Does this sacrosanctity necessarily rests upon torture and torment of innocent buds of our society?
Committee on Rights of Child in the General Comment (No. 8) defines ‘corporal’ or ‘physical’ punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort”.[footnoteRef:1] A 2007 study titled “Child Abuse in India” conducted by Ministry of Women and Child Development concluded that every two out of three child going to school are victims of physical abuse.[footnoteRef:2] As we are very well aware of the fact that Teaching is a cognitive activity and that’s why the learning process of a child should be on the firm base of “EDUTAINMENT” (i.e. Education + Entertainment) not on the dreadful background of child harassment and the physical abuse in the form of Corporal punishment. [1: United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) General Comment No. 8, The Right of the Child to Protection from Corporal Punishment and Other Cruel or Degrading forms of Punishment, (U.N. CRC/C/GC/8) March 2, 2007.] [2: UNICEF, All You Want to Know About Corporal Punishment, UNICEF India, https://unicef.in/Story/197/All-You-Want-to-Know-About-Corporal-Punishment (last visited Nov. 13, 2019). ]
Looking at the instances of corporal punishment throughout the country – the results are appalling. Their skulls are smashed against the wall, they are beaten to black and blue with sticks, they are compelled to do 150+ sit-ups, they are slapped tight on their face forcefully and ruthlessly multiple times, they are made to stand in scorching sunlight for numerous hours till they faint and fall down, they are made “murga” for hours which generates intense pain in shoulder and leg muscles. They are also subjected to verbal abuses by speaking of ill remarks about their caste/religion, shaming, ridiculing, using sarcasm and derogatory remarks that lower their dignity and self-esteem, etc.[footnoteRef:3] Worst part here is that parents who are ideally expected to have utmost concern for their offspring are either indifferent to their agonies and tears or even support the act of perpetrator. [3: HRD Ministry, Government of India, Advisory under S.35 of RTE Act, 2009 for elimination of corporal punishment in schools, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (Mar. 26, 2014), https://www.ncpcr.gov.in/showfile.php?lid=873.]
“Spare the rod and spoil the child” is what that animates such acts. Mindset of said persons are highly irrational and hence worrisome: Harass the laggards and Punish the Petulant, with the underlying concept of deterrence.
It is the darkest lacuna and ignominy upon the justice system of our country that till date we have no efficacious legislation for combating such menace. The so called “core children law”[footnoteRef:4] of our country, as per its Section 2(21) r/w Section 82 fails to cover prohibition of corporal punishments in schools as same does not falls within ambit of child care institution. The provisions of Right to Education Act, 2009 have no strong sanctions against such perpetrators other than “weak” disciplinary actions.[footnoteRef:5] Successive National Education Policies are not properly implemented. It is also quite ironically noteworthy that our law serves well-cooked defence[footnoteRef:6] to the perpetrators in the case at hand. But it also has a limit upto causing grievous hurt and the perpetrators usually transcend that limit too by their grotesque, diabolical and ghastly acts of so called “disciplinary punishments” against these naive lives. [4: The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, No. 2 of 2016.] [5: The Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education Act, No. 35 of 2009, § 17.] [6: The Indian Penal Code, No. 45 of 1860, § 89.]
Teachers, Parents claim their intense bona fide intention beyond such acts without even making an attempt to look into the other side and the sufferer is an innocent life, who faces long term impacts of it – destructive behaviour, vandalism, pessimism, school phobia, avoidance, anxiety, and the worst one, self-killing.
At the flag end, it is germane to pen down few suggestions and at such backdrop if we really care for ultimate bright future of these seeds of nation and do not desire to see them either as an unemployed or as a criminal, then our ideologies need renovation or in the simpler terms reconditioning. Shift has to be brought from “rod” to “understanding and discussion”. Further, the direction of aforementioned “deterrence” has to be reversed from children to perpetrators by active role of judiciary because from aforesaid discussion it is evident that legislature and executive have certainly failed.
At the conclusion, golden words of Dr. Dan Siegel may be remembered – “Too often we forget that discipline really means to teach, not to punish. A disciple is a student, not a recipient of behavioural consequences.”