We 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.
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.
Recognition that corporal punishment in schools is a problem
Understand the drivers behind the use of corporal punishment
Conduct qualitative research in selected communities
Initiate a dialogue with teachers, parents and children
Capacity building in using positive discipline techniques and more effective teaching methods
Raise awareness through a variety of channels
Build foundation for larger-scale and nation-wide effort based on partnerships
Promote and disseminate the teacher toolkit beyond Gurgaon
Engage policymakers and administration for creating a suitable ecosystem
One of the 3 Ks for K3 is 'Knotting' / collaborating/ making friends with stakeholders. And here we got our chance to connect with the teachers of Government schools as we did a plantation drive to make the campus greener - which was highest on priority of the school teachers! Children, their teachers, corporate volunteers and Agrasar team participated in the event.
We are in the process of conducting qualitative research in the migrant worker communities in Gurgaon to understand the issue of Corporal Punishment. The study involves children aged 7 to 15 years, their parents, and government school teachers. Our interns from the the Tata Institute of Social Sciences supported us by conducting field interviews.
75% of the interviewed children experience school corporal punishment. 53% of children are beaten regularly by nearly every teacher. Children of migrant workers are often corporally punished by teachers on grounds of racial discrimination. The majority of children who are corporally punished by school teachers never tell their parents, mainly because the large majority of parents (73%) punish them as a result.
We all must remember a childhood toy. That is ‘paper boat’. As soon as it started raining we used to make paper boats and float it where ever we found water. We hoped it would go far. But at times of heavy rain the kayak made of paper could not tolerate a heavy rain shower. So, simile goes here to describe a child who is as delicate as a paper boat and has just taken its first step in the hope of taking a long joyful and successful journey. How will the child be able to cross the river smiling and beaming?
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 related to the overall context of domestic and gender-based violence in India
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.
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 pattern of behaviour are later replicated in intimate and parenting relationships
He studies in class 8th and is 13 years of age. He was very shy to talk to us when we encountered him outside his house. We explained him the reason why we were there and what was our purpose. He was shy but was ready to share his experiences with us.
We asked him about his favorite teacher and the reason to which he replied, “I like math teacher because she does not punish and explains very well”. When asked about other teachers, he said, “some teacher punishes by slapping and even principal ma’am slaps when we do not obey”. We asked him the name of the principal to which he couldn’t reply because the teacher-student attachment is surface level and not emotional.
Praveen further added that punishments often left us feel humiliated and ashamed in front of other classmates. But he also agrees that punishments are important otherwise the students wouldn’t learn from their mistakes. When probed further he answered that even at home we face corporal punishments.
At school students are mainly punished for indiscipline, talking during assembly and not completing homework etc. Praveen did not like getting punished at school because he feels that humiliating.
Shaalu is a very sweet yet confident girl that we met. She studies in UKG. She was very serious while talking to us and hold her studies and school close to her heart.
Shaalu loves going to school and likes doing her homework. When we asked about punishments in her school, she said, “Yes, teachers do punish us when we do not complete our homework or does not pay attention in class”. Types of punishments that teachers use in schools are like pulling ears, slapping, making students stand out of the class or to raise their hands and stand for the whole period.
She adds further, teachers only beat those children who are not good and those which teachers do not like. It was a very evident from her innocent reply that teachers beat children without any reason as well.
She feels that children should not be beaten as this instills fear in their mind. Some of her friends fear going to school because of some teachers. Her mother said, “children are like wet mud, as we shape them they take the shape. And that is why we should always be gentle with them and not rude or frighten them, this have long lasting effects on them.”
Saurav is a cheerful and confident boy we met in Sikanderpur. He is from West Bengal. He studies in class 7th and is 12 years old. He loves going to school and seemed quite happy about it.
Saurav likes his class teacher, Abida (name changed) ma’am because she teaches well and doesn’t beat like other teachers. Another reason which he gave was that, Abida ma’am gives very less homework and that why it is possible to complete it not get punished.
Usually in their school, students are beaten up by hard wooden scales, and are even slapped for not completing homework or disturbing in class. Saurav feels that students should be punished because they do not obey teachers and that is why teachers have to beat them.
The reasons which he is punished or get beatings at home is for using mobile for long time and for not doing the household chores. Now one must be wondering as how a 12 year old boy must be getting beatings for not doing house hold. His mother works at the Aircel company as a cleaner and have to leave early from home and couldn’t finish the work at home. His father is a hawker and is not at home most of the time in the day. So Saurav has to take the responsibility of the house and do the work of washing utensils and clothes.
We asked about the aspirations and Saurav said that, he wish to stand on his feet and be self-sufficient to help his parents in their old age.