By Sampa Kundu:
Punishing school children is widespread in our society. Sometimes, it takes the form of extreme violence that may include physical torture, emotional punishments or negative reinforcements. Physical torture/ corporal punishment may be as extreme as to make the children stand in the sun for the entire day. Emotional punishment includes being slapped by opposite sex, labeling the children with placards screaming ‘I am a fool’ or ‘I am a thief’ etc., suspending children for a couple of days and so on. Negative reinforcements are as humiliating as physical and emotional punishments. They include calling the parents asking for explanation of the child’s behavior, threatening to cancel admission, deducting marks, asking the children to miss extra-curricular activities, not allowing the children into class, making them pay fines etc. The list can be continued and made long. Often it is seen that emotional punishment and negative reinforcements finally take the form of corporal punishment. In this article, the word corporal punishment is used to mean all these three types of punishment. We all know that most of the school authorities, teachers, even the non-teaching staff do believe in all these types of punishment. They continue punishing those innocent children who are already over-burdened with their heavy schoolbags by one or another form of violence. Often enough, the children feel so humiliated that they cannot share their pain even with their parents. Sometimes, parents also express extreme faith on the school system and the teachers such that the punished child feels scared to share their agony with parents. The classmates and senior students often consider themselves lucky that they have not been given any punishment and instead of being a true friend they laugh at the face of the poor ‘unlucky’ child. It accentuates the feeling of disgrace in the punished child.
Today what we need is the introduction of effective punishment instead of corporal punishment. According to Sanderson Beck (1996), “Effective punishment is immediate, consistent, explained rationally, and administered by someone who has an affectionate relationship with the recipient.”
Today’s child is tomorrow’s parent. Hence, it is of utmost necessity that children are nurtured in a way that they enjoy their growth. Disciplining a child is important, and it should be accompanied with a sense of responsibility which cannot be taught in a punitive way. Responsibility comes with love. If you love someone you would like to take care of that person. Similarly, if a child learns to love books and their contents, he/she will be able to take care of the books. If the child loves school and its environment he/she will never make any excuse to be absent from the school. Love-responsibility-discipline walk parallel to each other. Therefore, corporal punishment should be uprooted from our society and the teacher-student relationship should be based on love, affection and understanding.
Corporal punishment is all against child rights. Children are supposed to study, make friends, play and learn to lead a healthy lifestyle from schools. It is the responsibility of the teachers to make their schooling a joyous one, not aÂ horrificÂ experience.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.