National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has issued ‘Guidelines for eliminating corporal punishment in schools’ following implementation of the Right to Education Act, which clearly bans abuse of children.
“In keeping with the provisions of the RTE Act, 2009, corporal punishment could be classified as physical punishment, mental harassment and discrimination,” say the guidelines, adding that currently, there is no statutory definition of corporal punishment of children in the Indian law and definition “can at best only be indicative.”
The guidelines are categorical that “there is no threshold below which physical force against a child is acceptable” and physical punishment is any action that “causes pain, hurt/injury and discomfort to a child, however light.” Mental harassment is any “non-physical treatment that is detrimental to the academic and psychological wellbeing of a child.”
Discrimination is understood as “prejudiced views and behaviour towards any child because of her/his caste/gender, occupation or region and non-payment of fees or for being a student admitted under the 25 per cent reservation to disadvantaged groups or weaker sections of society under the RTE Act, 2009.”
The NCPCR had, earlier this year, asked schools to constitute special monitoring cells to take action in cases of physical punishment or harassment of children. It had also suggested the setting up of corporal punishment monitoring cells (CPMCs) to hear grievances related to corporal punishment, child sexual abuse, mental harassment and discrimination.
Schools should have annual social audits of physical punishment, harassment and discrimination, which should be made public before the start of every new academic year.
The guidelines were framed following a study in 2009-10 involving 6,632 children across seven States. It showed that the 6,623 children had reported experiencing some kind of punishment.