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Monday, August 13, 2007 : 0330 Hrs

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  • National
    Insulting a child also corporal punishment

    New Delhi, Aug. 13 (PTI): Making a student kneel down or stand for hours and pinching or slapping him or her could land teachers in trouble as all acts involving insult or humiliation to the child could soon be banned in schools.

    Taking a serious view of increasing incidences of violence on children in schools, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has expanded the definition of corporal punishment to include even small acts.

    NCPCR Chairperson Shantha Sinha has written to all chief secretaries recommending that there should be no gradations while judging corporal punishment and noted that "small acts" should not be condoned as they actually lead to gross violations.

    "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," Sinha wrote in the letter.

    The Commission has enlisted rapping on the knuckles, making students kneel down or stand up for long hours, sitting like a chair and beating up with a scale, pinching and slapping, locking up student alone in classrooms and making a child run in the school ground as forms of corporal punishment.

    Among the more serious forms of violence against children that the Commission has taken note of are child sexual abuse, torture, and electric shocks.

    Sinha said that even acts like slapping and pinching should not be condoned. "Even such small acts should be taken cognisance of because they have an impact on the child's psychology and could lead to more serious forms of punishment," she said.

    However, schools have opposed the idea, saying while teachers should not be allowed to behave aggressively with children, they should be permitted to use certain means to discipline them and make them understand the difference between right and wrong.

    "Of course, there should be no violence against children. But you cannot disallow the teacher to use any form of punishment against students," said Madhulika Sen of Tagore International School in Delhi.

    She said some punishment like standing at the back of the classroom or staying back after school hours should be allowed to make children realise their mistake.

    "How do you expect the children to comprehend what is right and what is wrong if they are allowed to get away with everything?" Sen said.

    Echoing her views, R P Mallik, chairman of the Federation of Public Schools in the national capital, said a one-sided view of the issue was being taken and the teachers' perspective should also be taken into account.

    "How will the teacher discipline the children? Parents also use certain means to make children understand where they have gone wrong and the teachers need to do the same," he said.

    Mallik said the issue should not be generalised. "If one or two schools have been at fault, you cannot blacklist the entire teaching community and put unnecessary curbs on them," he said.


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