Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Whip Them Into Shape

There's always one kid in every class. The one who won't pay attention. The one who distracts the others with his clowning and silly behaviour. The one the teacher feels like slapping "for his own good."

There are some who insist on showing off, taking risks, leading others into dangerous situations.

And then there are the ones who are just plain trouble. Up to no good, full of mischief and eager to create a problem. Mostly boys, but plenty of girls too:

These are the children just crying out to be brought into line.


Corporal punishment is rampant in Indian schools, as it is in most of the world.

In honor of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, internationally celebrated as Non-Violence Day, Parents Action Group on Education (PAGE), an initiative of the Latika Roy Foundation, has issued a Call to Action to Dehradun schools.

According to the 2007 national report on child abuse by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, two out of three children in India are abused in school. Some of these cases have resulted in children’s deaths, either directly through the violence itself, or indirectly by driving children to commit suicide. Although the Constitution of India specifically prohibits any kind of violence - either physical or mental - against children, corporal punishment is still rampant throughout the country.

While many defend the practice as necessary for children’s training and development, the same acts, if done to an adult, would constitute an unlawful assault and be punishable with jail.

Here in Dehradun, almost every school child has either been beaten by a teacher or principal or has witnessed classmates being hit. Most children do not report the abuse to their parents for fear of further punishment and many parents are afraid to confront school authorities on the issue.

PAGE members, all of whom are parents whose children have studied or are studying in local schools, want the practice to stop. In a letter to the principals of all area schools, we have asked that the school publicly pledge to end violence of all kinds in their classrooms and to promise that no child will be physically or emotionally abused.

The pledge is as follows:

As Principal of XYZ School in Dehradun, I hereby pledge that no child of this school shall be subjected to corporal punishment of any kind. This includes slapping, beating, ear pulling, pinching or being forced to stand in the sun or in painful positions. Furthermore, no child shall be verbally humiliated or attacked for any reason.

XYZ School shall practice positive, child-centred discipline which nurtures and empowers children while still establishing the necessary boundaries that allow them to develop to their fullest potential.

After circulating the letter, PAGE will publish the names of all schools who have taken the pledge.

Our vision is of a world where adults respect and honor children, where the joy of childhood is not insulted or invaded by violence,

and where the natural curiosity of children is encouraged and nurtured by the adults lucky enough to be with them:

Take the pledge!


SC Vashishth said...

Jo! Congratulation on this initiative. It is needed and I hope Schools will understand the importance of this.

Entropy said...

We live in our own world,
A world that is too small
For you to stoop and enter
Even on hands and knees,
The adult subterfuge.

And though you probe and pry With analytic eye,
And eavesdrop all our talk With an amused look,

You cannot find the centre Where we dance, where we play,

Where life is still asleep Under the closed flower,
Under the smooth shell Of eggs in the cupped nest

That mock the faded blue Of your remoter heaven.