Leave the kids alone

  • Guardians and teachers should realise they are raising children, not bullies
Leave the kids alone

Sep 15, 2014-

That the children get beaten up and humiliated is as dark a reality as the black polyvinyl pipe used to thrash them. Any gathering of high-school friends is incomplete without the memories of teachers tainted by their ‘inventive’ methods to ‘discipline’ students. Didn’t do the homework, twist the ears or pull on the lock of hair in front. The handwriting is shoddy, place the pencil in between the fingers and push them down. The students are not listening, line them up and clobber their buttocks.

Parents are not farther behind in this ‘master beater’ competition. Some of them are so notorious for their violence that a slap on a child’s face is considered being lenient; brutal would be tying a child up and swatting her with a sprig of nettles soaked in water. Others are known to be temperamental; throwing whatever is around them —a ladle, a sickle or a stone—at the unruly child. And most of the parents liberally advise teachers to beat their children if needed. If only it were so simple.

That the children carry scars of physical trauma is evident by the dominance of violent teachers and parents in their conversations far into the adulthood. Research has shown that children who suffer physical maltreatment can become mentally ill, aggressive and antisocial—the impacts that could last a life-time. That caning children backfires is plain in the guardians’ comments: jati pite pani mandainan (No matter how hard I hit them, they do not listen). Laws have already recognised the adverse effects of corporal punishment, banning its ‘severe’ form through the 1992 Child Act and editing the clause to say all forms through the Supreme Court verdict in 2005.   

Yet, while the cases have gone down in urban areas, the majority of people are largely inactive in preventing violence against children. Most do not understand the hullaballoo caused by a raising stick. The parents and teachers themselves grew up with a slap or more and think that sharing that ‘privilege’ with the next generation is actually healthy and nurturing.

Amidst this craziness, the government’s decision to launch a year-long campaign against corporal punishment is a welcome move. It was long overdue. The government, together with child-rights organisations, plan to make laws against physical punishment stronger, allowing parents and teachers no room for defence. It also plans to stimulate awareness and discussions on a child’s right to dignity and how sticks and canes batter it.

If the government is serious about eliminating corporal punishment, the campaign cannot be a half-hearted one, spurred on only in the name of celebrating the International Children’s Day. The cycle of a child growing up abused only to abuse her own offspring, or pupils, has to be broken. Parents and teachers should be offered constructive alternatives to pipes, such as rewards and gentle reasoning. They should understand, not just be told, that their palms are better equipped at guiding little hands and not soiling memories.

Published: 16-09-2014 09:23

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