"Choking Childhood" - School Corporal Punishment

A research on everyday violence faced by disadvantaged children in schools of India

| Unveiled by Pullela Gopichand on 20 November 2018 |

Report First PageWe have launched our Research Report on Corporal Punishment, this Universal Children's Day. Until now, there has been very little effort to understand why this form of violence remains epidemic in our schools, what are its consequences and what are the possible leverages to eliminate this menace systematically and culturally. Despite being illegal, school corporal punishment is an epidemic and widely accepted form of “low-intensity” violence against children, which enables and perpetuates other forms of violence in our society. It has been a decade since the government conducted two studies to assess the magnitude of the problem, no systematic research has been done to understand the factors that put our children at risk.

Our report addresses this gap and provides detailed insight into the drivers behind school corporal punishment in Gurugram’s disadvantaged communities, explaining how and why children of parents who have migrated here experience corporal punishment at school.

Download the full report

Why we need to worry

Creates an environment of fear and abuse in children

The pain and scars, and in some cases, fatal injuries or long-term health problems that are inflicted by corporal punishment, endanger the safety of India’s children

It undermines the effort to provide children with a safe learning space

Corporal punishment increases the struggle of India’s children to grow up in a safe environment, free from fear and abuse
It also relates to the overall context of domestic and gender-based violence in India

Undermines the very purpose of education

Corporal punishment intimidates children, suppressing their intellectual curiosity

It is ineffective to discipline children – it merely encourages conformist behaviour to avoid pain instead of helping students to focus their attention

Exercising corporal punishment is a waste of time that could be spent elsewhere

Corporal punishment undermines children’s trust and respect for teachers

Foundation for aggressive and delinquent behaviour in adults

The experience of corporal punishment at school correlates with aggressive, violent and delinquent behaviour in children’s later life

It has correlations with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and generally lower self-esteem

It causes frustration and trauma in children, resulting in hostility and violent acts towards others

Violent patterns of behaviour are later replicated in intimate and parenting relationships

Our theory of change

We are pioneering elimination of corporal punishment in India by fostering cultural, structural and behavioral changes in families and schools, scaffolded with diverse partnerships and human centred technology, and thereby laying the foundations for building a more caring and compassionate society.

What we do

Capacity Building of Teachers

Teachers' Training Supporting the teachers to connect with their own values as teachers and enable them to use child-centric, non-violent disciplining methods in their classrooms that instill the ability of “self-regulation” among students

Homework Solidarity Groups

Homework Solidarity Groups Facilitating the school students to form solidarity groups to support each other in ensurng that the homework is completed in time and with a high level of accuracy so that the students take on the responsibility of their own learning.

"Good Student" workshops

Teachers' Training Facilitating the development of life skills in children that equip them with skills that are necessary to maintain good relationships with their peers and teachers, which should have a positive impact on the school and classroom climate

Facilitating NCPCR Guidelines

Implementing NCPCR Guidelines National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has constituted comprehensive guidelines following a detailed study which was conducted in 2009-10 involving 6632 children across seven States. The study reported almost all children experiencing some kind of punishment. The guidelines have laid out a robust mechanism to be established in schools for promoting fear free education

Community Awareness Campaigns

Community Awareness We raise awareness on various forms of violence against children, and its negative impact on children in particular and society in general. Through our methodology based on "theatre of the oppressed", people learn the importance of listening to children, understanding their perspectives and creating a fear-free environment at home for children’s growth

Supporting Other Organisations

Partnerships to Scale up We believe that many organisations across the globe are equally passionate about creating safe spaces for children, and are truly immersed in their own communities. We are convinced that the most impactful way of upscaling our efforts is to partner with other organisations and build synergies to curb this menace from society.

Myths about Corporal Punishment

Corporal Punishment in India

Understanding Corporal Punishment
Is Corporal Punishment legal in India?
The ground reality

Understanding Corporal Punishment

What is corporal punishment?

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as
“any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light (...) In the view of the Committee, corporal punishment is invariably degrading. In addition, there are other non-physical forms of punishment that are also cruel and degrading and thus incompatible with the Convention.” Corporal punishment comes in the form of both physical and mental abuse - therefore it is not a type of ‘punishment’ but an act of violence against children and breaches their human rights.

Why is corporal punishment being used in schools?

While teachers have different individual motives to regularly beat or abuse their students, our understanding from research and ground level work reveals that prevailing attitudes and structural problems within in our educational system account for the continued use of corporal punishment:

Many teachers perceive corporal punishment as an effective tool to control children’s behaviour and their academic performance

Oversized classrooms and insufficient infrastructure, especially in public schools, create a frustrating environment for teachers and students

The management culture and promotion system in government schools create few incentives for teachers to do ‘good job’

Schools often do not have adequate governance in place to respond to disruptive student behaviour and incidents

There is a lack of enforcement of existing school (safety) guidelines and to hold the school management accountable for violations

Pervasive violence, especially against children and women, in India’s society does not stop at the school gate but perpetuates the problem

Efforts to ban Corporal Punishment in India

Corporal punishment is prohibited by law in India. Several legal instruments prohibit the use of corporal punishment in the educational system:

In 1992, India acceded the UN Convention on Rights of the Child (1989) which bans corporal punishment in schools for it is a violation of human dignity

In 2002, the Delhi High Court judged that corporal punishment violates a child’s dignity that is guaranteed by the constitution

The 2003 National Charter for Children confirms children’s right to be protected from all corporal punishment

The 2009 Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education (RTE) Act bans corporal punishment from the educational system

In 2012, the National Commission on the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) issued Guidelines on Ban of Corporal Punishment

The 2013 National Policy for Children confirms the prohibition of corporal punishment in education

Following the incident at Ryan International School in September 2017, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Haryana state government issue guidelines reinforcing children’s right to study in an environment free from physical or emotional abuse

Failure to implement and enforce

The legal ban of corporal punishment in schools is barely implemented or enforced.

Despite being illegal for almost a decade, the majority of school children in India are still being abused by their teachers.

According to a nation-wide study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007, 65% of children face corporal punishment at school, while five years later the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) pegged that number at 99.9%. At the same time, Childline India reported that only 6% of government and 4% of private schools do not use corporal punishment.

Sadly, those numbers have changed very little until now, and we have learnt from recent studies that children of young age and disadvantaged communities are particularly vulnerable. UNICEF’s Young Lives study in 2015 concluded that 93% of primary school children experience abuse by teachers, compared to “only” 68% of teenagers.

Our own survey in Gurgaon in 2017 found that 75% of children from low-income, migrant worker communities are subjected to corporal punishment, significantly higher than the average of 65%.



We run a number of community schools for children of migrant workers, aiming to mainstream them into government schools. Last year, we were celebrating our success as a number of ‘our’ children were accepted into public schools. However, this sense of achievement soured quickly when we found out that they were beaten up by their teachers almost on a daily basis. Although we were able to stop those teachers, we believe that all of India’s children deserve to grow up and learn in an environment free of fear and abuse, and launched Kaagaz ki kashti, our campaign against corporal punishment in the schools of India.


Link to the webpage for Agrasar's movement against corporal punishment in India

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