Recently, a teacher was arrested in Trichy for killing a UKG student. Apparently, Srirohini (a 5 – year - old) had been mischievous and as punishment was hit on the forehead with a stick. The little one became unconscious and later, died. Her body had to be retrieved from a water tank. Isn’t it appalling to think of how abruptly and senselessly a life was terminated? There is every indication that this is not simply a random mishap and corporal punishment in schools is a burgeoning problem in this country.
In 1998, a 12 – year – old in New Delhi lost 20% percent vision in his right eye when a teacher flung a duster at another student. The errant duster shattered his spectacles and resulted in the tragedy. In 2003, a 10 – year – old girl died at her school in Karnataka. She had been ordered to run three times around the school, and twice up and down the stairs for reporting late for a class. Autopsy reports indicated that she had been put through this grueling ordeal immediately after lunch and death may have resulted from the pupil choking on food particles that were regurgitated following the extreme physical strain. A study conducted by the UNICEF in association with Delhi – based PRAYAS in 2007 reported that nearly 90% of students in Mizoram state are victims of corporal punishment, second only to Assam’s 99.56%.
The worst part is that corporal punishment is seldom used only when all other measures have been ineffective. Most teachers use it liberally, and for the smallest infarctions. Students at the receiving end of the stick experience humiliation, severe trauma, and may even suffer from persistent nightmares. Their self – esteem takes a beating and may affect their scholarly pursuits and future careers adversely. For these reasons, corporal punishment has been banned in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Chandigarh, and Karnataka but it appears that the legal provisions in place have been insufficient to tackle this problem as some teachers feel free to get violent whenever the mood hits them.
A lot of people approve of this anachronistic disciplinary measure despite the fact that there is precious little scientific evidence to support its efficacy in the academic setting. Strangely enough, many parents also approve of corporal punishment. This erroneous mindset needs to be tackled on the grounds that a stick is a ridiculous teaching – aid. And moreover, surely children are entitled to the same protection that animals enjoy in this country!
This writer feels very strongly about this evil as she experienced it firsthand during her school days. I had a pencil shoved down my throat by my instructor, during singing class, because I did not open my mouth wide enough. It was the instructor’s firm belief that the mark of a good singer could be ascertained if one could ram four fingers into the mouth while the person was singing. How any deficits in such a department merits being force – fed pencils is beyond me. Can’t say the incident left me scarred for life, but it certainly put an end to a potentially successful career as a singer (or bathroom singer) as singing leaves a bad taste in my mouth ever since that incident. I am sure everybody has a similar story to relate about corporal punishment at varying levels of severity. Surely, we all want our children to be spared the rod and other insane methods of punishment! Serious action must be initiated against psychotic, cane – wielding teachers to get them to toe the line.