Karnataka: Children’s rights violated: Corporal punishment tops list

Bengaluru: Corporal punishment, though illegal, continues unabated across the state. The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSPCR) says that of over 120 cases of child rights violations reported since January till March this year, majority are of corporal punishment. The numbers were higher in November and December of 2017, when KSPCR registered 92 such cases. “It is distressing that despite the ban on corporal punishment, such incidents continue to be reported,” said Ms Veena Jadhav, UNICEF-legal consultant, KSPCR.  

Article 17 from Chapter IV of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act “prohibits any child being subjected to physical punishment and mental harassment”. The section states, “Educationists the world over are clear that what matters for creating a mature citizen is the provision of a ‘learning environment’ in the formative years, which is what the school must become, and not a ‘correctional’ centre, which has the connotations of a jail. Physical punishment and mental trauma are counter-productive, and may cause a child to become even more defiant and rebellious than before.”

The Constitution also ensures protection for children against exploitation. The National Policy on Education (NPE) 1986/1992 states: “Corporal punishment will be firmly excluded from education system.” The Juvenile Justice Act prescribes a three-year jail for the accused teacher.

“The commission receives a minimum of four complaints of corporal punishment every week on the Child Help line (1098). It increases during exams in non-government schools,” said Nagasimha G. Rao, Nodal Supervisor and Director of Child Rights Trust.

But after complaining about corporal punishment, majority of students and their parents do not pursue the cases further as they are scared of retribution from institutions. “Recently, a standard 11 boy of a private school in Hegade Nagar was beaten up by principal with a cane. The boy lodged a complaint with the child helpline, but later said it was accidental,” Mr Nagasimha said.

Also, it takes a long time for such cases to reach a logical end as both parties don’t turn up for hearing at the same time, Veena said. What is alarming is that nearly 30% of students changed schools because of corporal punishment, stated the National Commission of Child Right in its survey. 

“Teachers should be given psychosocial training, those indulging in it should be given exemplary punishment to stop others from practising it and awareness programmes should be organised on different innovative teaching methods. It is important for teachers to know the UNCRC Act, 1989, Posco Act, 2012, RTE Act, 2009 and Juvenile Justice Act,” Nagasimha Rao said. 

The most common reason for corporal punishment is pressure from schools and homes to perform better in exams, he said. The UN Convention on Child Rights (UNCRC), of which India is a signatory, also states in its Article 19 that “state parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parents, legal guardians or any other person who has the care of the child”

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