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With schools reopening all over the country, after operating online for over a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ugly issue of corporal punishment has again raised its head.
In one incident, the principal of Sadbhavna Shikshan Sansthan Junior High School in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, grabbed a child by one leg and dangled him upside down from the first-floor balcony of the school building to ‘teach him a lesson’ for being naughty and eating gol gappas with his peers. The principal only put him down after he begged for forgiveness. The picture went viral on social media on October 29.
In another shocking incident, on October 20, a teacher, Manoj Kumar (35), teaching in a private school in Churu, Rajasthan, had asked the students to complete their homework. When Class 7 student Ganesh did not complete his homework, the teacher pinned him down and beat him till he fell unconscious.
Kumar then called the child’s father and informed him that his son had fallen unconscious after he beat him. When the child’s father inquired if the teacher had killed his child, Manoj replied, “He is pretending to be dead.” When the child was rushed to the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries.
Is Corporal Punishment by teachers Legal?
Under the Indian Constitution, violence against children is violative of the right to live with dignity, which is integral to the right to life under Article 21, Protection of Life and Personal Liberty. Section 17 of the RTE Act, 2009 imposes an absolute bar on corporal punishment. It prohibits physical punishment and mental harassment of children and prescribes disciplinary action to be taken against the guilty person in accordance with the service rules applicable to such person.
Many believe that corporal punishment should be inclusive in the school culture. In school, holding your toes, being beaten by a steel ruler on your palm or even slapped in front of your peers is not unheard of in our country.
Manan Choksi, Executive Director, Udgam School said, “Physical Punishment should never be an option and our constitution does not allow a teacher to hit a child. After Covid-19, many teachers have gone through psychological problems due to the economic crisis and pay cuts which has led to aggression. Not justifying their actions, but the only way to eradicate such anger-related issues is to provide therapy for teachers.”
“It should be noted that both the incidents have occurred in private schools. Such incidents are prevalent in private schools. Physical harassment should never be an option. It could lead to mental problems for the child and the peers who witness such incidents. Not only teachers but also parents believe in corporal punishment. One child from our school, ran away after school as his mother was threatening to beat him but luckily was found,” said Vishnu Patel, Principal, Nishan School.