Corporal punishments and societal attitudes

November 25, 2018

Legal protections can be important safeguards against Corporal punishments. However legal safeguards shall be availed of in the very extreme conditions and only by certain segments of society. The most vulnerable have never been able to take advantage of legal recourse in issues which have been dealt with by society in some aspects. Corporal punishment is yet considered a topic for another day. In state run schools, the issue is still a non starter.

Societal attitudes even today believe in a punishment model to discipline children. Pedagogy is rampant even today and often teachers are not sensitized enough by institutions on the many vast effects of corporal punishments. The teachers often in their short term objectives of controlling a class or to incentivize students to learn better or faster indulge in punishments which are bound to give short term gains. The short term gains suit a teacher well, they hurt curious minds, intelligent minds and they most hurt those who have never been inspired by many to learn better. These punishments could come in all sizes and forms. Mocking, name calling, ridiculing, scaring and threatening children are aspects which are often ignored in the whole gamut of Corporal punishments. Even in the forum discussions on Corporal punishments, the focus stays on physical assault, the small things and insults only lurk inside the minds of innocent children who often cant even explain their feelings to their families.

“Lathon ke bhoot baton se nahi maante” is an old and popular saying in Hindi which is representative of the societal attitude towards children too. A teacher in India often has to manage large classrooms and the class bully often is considered the premier antagonist of the school staff room. A slap offered in a class is boasted of in staff rooms, whispered by the innocent students in corridors and lends a legend like image to the teacher. It is the first generation learners that get targetted for their slow learning at times, it is the considered riff raff of the school that is antagonized, it is the meek, clumsy and nervous kid who is mocked. Corporal punishments are not because of the difficult students in a school. They are mostly the frustration of a mind who is permitted to vent anger against a set of individuals at their mercy. Training and understanding of child psychology definitely comes into picture. But at the root of Corporal punishments is the knowledge that the society perceives disciplining to come from punishments than from positive reinforcement.

The society mirrors itself across the gates of a school. Physical beating of students and regular shouting by their own parents is something that needs attention in the whole aspect of Corporal punishment removal. Interaction of teachers and parents is often to a transactional level in most government schools. Increasing this interaction in a positive way is a necessary aspect towards changing and keeping a check on both parents as well as Teachers.

by Aditya Khandekar <khandekar.adi@gmail.com>

Guest Contributor

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