Schools are to constitute special cells to monitor corporal punishment and conduct annual social audits

With an increasing number of incidents of schools practicing corporal punishment, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked schools to constitute special monitoring cells to take prompt action in cases of physical punishment or harassment of children.

The NCPCR guidelines on elimination of corporal punishment, unveiled here on Monday to mark the foundation day of the child rights panel, suggest that Corporal Punishment Monitoring Cells (CPMCs) should hear grievances related to corporal punishment, child sexual abuse, mental harassment and discrimination without any delay and should forward recommendations to district level authorities within 48 hours of the occurrence.

The panel has suggested that school boards should ask the schools affiliated to them to ensure a “corporal punishment-free environment”. This would be one of the conditions for granting affiliation or recognition while practice of physical punishment or mental harassment should be one of the grounds for withdrawal of affiliation.

The guidelines suggest that school teachers should provide a written undertaking that they would not engage in any action that could be construed as amounting to physical punishment, mental harassment or discrimination.

It also says that schools should have annual social audits of physical punishment, harassment and discrimination. The guidelines suggest that results of the audit should be made public before start of every new academic year.

All school children should be informed through campaigns and publicity drives that they have a right to speak against physical punishments, mental harassment and discrimination.

The NCPCR constituted comprehensive guidelines following a detailed study which was conducted in 2009-10 involving 6,632 children across seven States. The study showed that out of the 6, 632 children, 6, 623 children had reported experiencing some kind of punishment. As many as 81.2 per cent children had been subject to outward rejection by being told that they were not capable of learning or some other kind of verbal punishment.

Based on the findings of the report, NCPCR experts have formulated guidelines that stress on “positive engagement” with children.

The guidelines advise teachers to pay positive attention to children and appreciate good efforts while ignoring minor lapses. They also lay down that life skills education should be made a part of school curricula and should address issues of self esteem, aggression, drug abuse, decision making, coping with stress and others.

The guidelines also suggest that school authorities should hold meetings with parent-teacher bodies on the guidelines and decide which procedures they should adopt to protect children and their rights in school.

Speaking on the occasion, the NCPCR chairperson Shantha Sinha said that the “Commission has brought together some of the best minds and experts to draft its guidelines on corporal punishment.”