Meera Srinivasan

“These meetings will have to be held ahead of the new academic year”

“Unless we learn to respect the children, the issue cannot be resolved”

CHENNAI: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) will soon write to Collectors across the country, instructing them to hold meetings with all school heads and convey that no form of corporal punishment will be tolerated.

“These meetings will have to be held ahead of the new academic year,” Commission chairperson Shanta Sinha told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The move followed the recent incident in which 11-year-old Shanno Khan of a Delhi school was brutally punished by her teacher.

“Unless we learn to respect children and treat them as equals, the issue cannot be resolved. It is only because some teachers do not respect children and they call them ‘stupid’ or ‘idiot’. No adult will dare call another adult in these terms, isn’t it?” Prof. Sinha asks.

In 2007, the NCPCR wrote to all Chief Secretaries, stressing the need for abolishing this practice. “…It is being noticed that corporal punishment in schools, both government as well as private, is deeply ingrained as a tool to discipline children and as a normal action. All forms of corporal punishment are a fundamental breach of human rights. A slap is as detrimental to the child’s right as grievous injury. Indeed, there are no gradations since it must be seen that condoning so called ‘small acts’ actually lead to gross violations. It is also legally impermissible…” Ms.Sinha had stated in the letter then. Things have not changed radically in the last two years, if the number of cases of corporal punishment being reported is any indication. “There were a few instances of teachers taking a proactive step to address the issue in States such as Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Idukki district in Kerala was declared corporal punishment-free. Unfortunately, we did not receive much feedback at the official level.”

Speaking on the role of educational boards in resolving this problem, Prof.Sinha says they play a vital role and need to strictly monitor schools. “In addition to this, parents should be given the confidence to provide feedback at PTA meetings. Many parents, who know that their children are being subjected to corporal punishment, are afraid to raise it at meetings, fearing the students may be victimised further,” she adds.

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