Corporal Punishment in Schools

Education is to be made pupil friendly. All those old methods of physically beating the students must be done away with, Prof. A. G. Madhosh makes a study. <...

Education is to be made pupil friendly. All those old methods of physically beating the students must be done away with, Prof. A. G. Madhosh makes a study.
 It was like the fall of a bomb shell on a reputed town in South Kashmir when the death news of a 16 year Old boy was broken to the masses. The boy was studying in a private school and on some occasion was harshly beaten by his teacher breaking the boys arm. Unfortunately the child caught gangrene of the broken bone and finally died in the S. K. Medical Institute Soura.
 An increased rate of such incidents inspired the author to take up a research project on this subject under his close supervision. The major objective of the study was to find out the extent and the causes of physical torture / corporal punishment in the schools. For this purpose a team of five Research Associates was put on the job. It took them four months to collect the data and process its publication. Before the detailed report is released a press summary of the major findings is placed as under:

Sample:
 The study included 30 schools, fifteen each from rural and urban school settings. Half of the schools were taken from the private sector. In all 1300 students 300 teachers 150 parents were approached with questionnaires and interview schedules. The data thus collected was analyzed using most appropriate statistical measures. Based on the numerical data the important results emerge as:

A. INCIDENCE
1. Corporal punishment in school both rural and urban is rampant with 85% schools exercising it almost daily and 15 % only when needed.
2. 37% girls and 76% boys report of having received several physical tortures during school hours.
3. Incidence of physical punishment is comparatively more prevalent in rural schools (66%) than in urban schools (32%).
4. Physical torture is exercised more frequently by male teachers (30%) than by their counterpart female teachers (23%).
5. Among various practices of torturing students include :
Slapping, beating with strong sticks, canning buttocks, kicking on all parts of the boy, running around or inside the school premises, standing on benches for quite some time, bullying by senior students and some instances of molestation and sexual harassments.  
6. Mild forms of punishments given to pre scholars between ages 3 and 5 years whereas elders age groups 11 to 17 years experience more severe punishment.
7. There is no significant difference between private and public (government) schools in the prevalence of child torture. However the rural government schools sticks to the stick more frequently (45%) than their counter parts in the private sector.
8. Aggressive and bullying behaviour on the part of students is more common in the government run schools than privately managed institutions (80% 35%).
9. The schools running co-educational programmes observe less aggressive measures than the gender specific schools. In the exclusive girls schools however the incidence is just not significant.
10. Maximum students (85%) do not report the incidents of maltreatment at school to their parents.
11. Another common place classroom punishment was verbal demoralization of children by insulting scolding, scorning and using abusive language by teachers.

B. CONTACT DATA            
 An interview with different categories of people led us to the following conclusions.

B1: PARENTS
1. Parents generally (87%) do not take their children's punishment by teachers seriously.
2. They hardly visit schools or meet the school management with a complaint.
3. Only those punitive incidents evoke some parental response where some severe injury has been inflicted upon their children.
4. Considering corporal punishment as an important requirement for learning parents on the contrary rebuke their children for making complaints of this kind.
5. Many parents are themselves practicing corporal torture of their children for the acts of non compliance and therefore do not see anything wrong with school terror.     

B2: Children
1.
 Corporal punishment is a deadening experience. It is extremely painful and demoralizing.
2. Government must ban physical torture in the schools.
3. Home assignments done under threat are just underrate.
4. Bullying by "Big Brothers", seniors and their "characterless" students make a school situation a hell like experience.
5. Physical or verbal aggression on the part of the teachers or administrators is absolutely shameful and utter disregard for a human being.
6. At times teachers / administrators punitive behaviour is extremely discriminatory. For the same act of misconduct some students are set free while others get lot of beating of kids or even a discharge certificate.

B3: ADMINISTRATORS
1. Punishment is meant for discipline.
2. 75% administrators confess that in their schools some form of students punishment (corporal) does exist.
3. 80% administrators do not look into the children's complains sincerely.
4. 10% administrators occasionally may ask a teacher to explain his / her punitive behaviour. This too when some major injuries are received by the children.
5. Punishment of children for non payment of schools dues is available in 15 % school run by local or private management.

B4: TEACHERS 
1. 80 % of teachers community (both private and public) confess having restored to mild or severe corporal punishment for smooth functioning in the schools.
2. All most all teachers accept physical beating of children as an important strategy of correcting misconduct among children.
3. 20% of the teachers believe that prior to physical punishment precautions warnings must be given to the defaulting students.
4. 90% teachers opine that "spare the rod spoils the child" is a time tested principle of teaching and learning.
5. 55% of female teachers advocate "love and affection" as an alternative to the physical terror.
6.   70% of the professionally trained teachers suggest a complete elimination of rod from the schools.

C) CONSEQUENCES / COMPLICATIONS 
1. Corporal punishment leads to stressful childhood experience (100%).
2. Children frequently beaten feel never ending anxiety sadness and unhappy mood fluctuations (56%)
3. A sizable number of students (70%) develop physical ailments like headaches uncontrolled urinations and neural disturbances.
4. The performance level of the children gradually slows down as the physical terror increases.
5. Absenteeism among students is more rampant due to the fear of punishment.
6. Children generally cut classes and avoid such teachers who are more aggressive and "dangerous".
7. Memory and learning residues sharply fall as threatful school experiences increase.
8. Bullying by senior students leads to frequent change of schools by the victims.
9. Many a students may turn hyperactivities and create problems in the classroom.      
10. Feelings of worthlessness are increased and also depressive suicidal expressions overwhelm the victimized students.
11. Emergence of violent behaviour among grown up children (ages 12-20).
12. Hardworking of students behaviour increase stubbornness, non cooperation and isolation.
13. Increased crying behavior among pre scholars before leaving for school.
14. Children victimized frequently show marked disciplinary problems in their behaviour.
15. About 6 % of the tortured students (senior age group) think of relative measures against teachers and tend to fall in the company of ill charactered persons some of them (0.5) may turn to drugs and alcohols.

D. CAUSES   
1. Non compliance of school rules.
2. Frequent absence behaviour.
3. Not attending the classroom teacher properly.
4. Not dressing in school uniform.
5. Making small thefts in the class.
6. Bullying classmates.
7. Non payment of school dues.
8. Failing to submit school assignments in time.
9. Poor performance in the exams.
10. Making noise and laughing at teachers.
11. Writing naughty letters to children of opposite sex.
12. Failing memory not learning fastly.
13. Using abusive language while transacting with other children.
14. Coming late to the school.
15.  Conducting strikes and instigating others for wrong practices
16. Fighting with other children and damaging school property.

BRIEF COMMENT
 Corporal punishment is taken as a fear of schooling exercise. There seems nothing abnormal about it. All the immediate stake holders viz., students, teachers parents and administrators accept a tolerable resort to physical abuse of children whenever they want them (children) to yield to some instructions. There is the belief that no modification in children behaviour is possible without severe or mild disciplinary measures. During our face to face contacts with the students it was revealed by some students who had received multiple injuries on their bodies that "It was just OK, how would we otherwise learn" one of seasoned and experienced teacher opined that "Creation of fear in the minds of children is necessary for memorizing facts and solving of mathematical problems". There was only a small group of teachers, students and parents who thought physical harassment of the children quite unnecessary. Some argued that only incompetent teachers resort to rod".
 Focusing on the consequences physical torture in the schools or at home plays a very strong negative role in child's, personality. The increased stress levels and other psychological problems are directly related with threatful school situations. Psychological horrors interact with other stresses like failure in exams, unsuccessful attempts through competitive tests domestic insult and parental rejection, to worsen the situation.
 It may seem quite strange that the National Curriculum frame work (NCF) for school education (2005) has nothing to say on a vibrant productive and an imaginative classroom environmental which has to be threat less for enjoyable learning outcomes. Since the document emphasizes Teacher Training Pogrammes, it may indirectly help in building children's confidence and teachers capacity to establish a meaningful rapport with the students which alone guarantees a threat free classroom environment.
 One more thing, this is widely known now that the present society along with its educational scenario has already stepped into an information rich and technology intensive era, it is therefore, an imperative to develop new approaches to learning. There would be a strong requirement to develop the capacity to learn than what is learnt for this purpose mending or bending children shall have to be replaced by understanding them through their creative faculties.     

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