Corporal Punishment And Bullying

Sujay Sarkar

Corporal punishment of school students for misbehavior has been outlawed in many countries. It involves striking the student on the buttock or the palm of the hand in a premeditated ceremony with an implement specially kept for the purpose such as a rattan cane or spanking paddle or with the open hand especially at the elementary school level.

Defining corporal punishment:

“The Committee defines ‘corporal’ or ‘physical’ punishment as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. Most involves hitting (‘smacking’, ‘slapping’, ‘spanking’) children, with the hand or with an implement – a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. But it can also involve, for example, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion (for example, washing children’s mouths out with soap or forcing them to swallow hot spices). In the view of the Committee, corporal punishment is invariably degrading. In addition, there are other non-physical forms of punishment that are also cruel and degrading and thus incompatible with the Convention. These include, for example, punishment which belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares or ridicules the child.”

Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 8, para. 11

Corporal punishment involves rapping on the knuckles, running on the school ground, kneeling down for hours, standing up for long hours, beaten up for long hours, sitting like a chair, beaten with a scale, pinched & slapped, child sexual abuse, torture, locking up of the children alone in the class room, ‘electric shock’ and all other facts leading to insult, humiliation, physical and mental injury and even death. For example in Rajasthan the report was on death of a student two days after the school teacher beat him, again in another incidence in Andhra Pradesh there was a report on how a school teacher subjected her student to electric shock, with full support and even justification given by the school head master. Children due to fear are often silent and submit to violence without questioning. They sometimes show signals of deep hurt in their behavior but this goes unnoticed, perpetuating future violence on them. It is being noticed that corporal punishment in schools both government as well as private is deeply ingrained as a tool to discipline children and as a normal action. All forms of corporal punishment are a fundamental breach of human rights. A slap is detrimental to the child’s right as grievous injury. Indeed there are no gradations since it  must be seen that condoning so called “ small acts ”actually lead to gross violations. It is also legally impermissible. The Supreme court in India has banned corporal punishment for children on 1st Dec.2000, when it directed the state to ensure – that children are not subjected to corporal punishment in schools and they receive education in an environment of freedom & dignity, free from fear. Children are human and sensitive as adults are, if not more. They need to be secure with a caring atmosphere. Practicing non-violence as a highest form of culture begins with seeing children as children. It is necessary for adults to behave with them in a manner that they are not subjected to violence and hurt of any kind. In a way fostering such a culture will develop adults as responsible adults. Who will in turn be vigilant & question those that are breaking the norms of respecting childhood. It is in this context, that the onus of responsibility in safeguarding children from punishment lies with the school teachers, education administration, at all levels as well as all those responsible for management equally. The Commission for National for Protection of Child Rights directs the education departments of all the states to ensure their prescribed guidelines to ensure childhood sensitivity. Read More…

Recently the Central Board of Secondary Education (C.B.S.E ) has asked all its affiliated schools to keep out corporal punishment at every cost. Though corporal punishment is banned in schools across the country, incidences keep happening due to which all boards work on sensitizing their staff. The board has made it clear that corporal punishment needs to be eliminated completely. It has emphasized in a letter to the schools that even the Right of children to Free & Compulsory Education   ( RTE ) Act has framed strong rules against it. The 2009 Act which came into force on 1st April a year later defines physical or mental harassment as illegal and punishable under section 17( 1 ) & 17 ( 2 ).The Act came in reference to the repercussions seen on the child’s mental condition on being subjected to such harassment which include – increased aggressive attitude, behavior resembling vandalism, decreased self-esteem, reduced confidence and concentration strength & other serious defects. Even psychiatrist agrees that corporal punishment could have grave consequences for the child. “Even a mild form of punishment can jeopardize a child’s self-respect, especially in cases of public humiliation; the child may develop a long – surviving trauma which can result in a case of suicide in some cases if the punishment is repeated”. He added that if a child was physically punished for the purpose of discipline, he might in the future use it on his juniors for the very same purpose. This effect is made worse if the child is exposed to acts of violence, especially on television. The only way to nurture a child in this case is to find the reason behind the problem of the child. Read More…


 Corporal Punishment in South Asia:

No single factor can account for the various forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment in schools. Arrange of interrelated social, cultural & educational factors contribute to the problem. Although hitting children is a common practice it is by no means universal and nothing suggests that it is “natural human behavior”. The level of sanctioned violence has decreased in several countries. South Asian countries have banned all forms of corporal punishment of children. In South Asia the degree of “acceptance” violence due to societal norms & values appears to be very high. South Asia is a society with strong hierarchy & unequal power relations. Moreover the concept of ‘respect for the elders’  is commendable in its own right but the society’s hierarchical  set up – this gives power to those in authority, the elders, the men, in school, to the teacher. Through teaching is perceived stereotypically as a socially appropriate profession for women but rural south Asia has majority of male teachers. The male oriented school environment are less sensitive and student friendly especially girls student. The phenomenon of corporal punishment clearly reflects & manifests children’s lack of power and their lower social status within the society, the family and in the classroom. In schools the teachers are seen as the figures of authority, transmitting knowledge to the students who are expected to submit, obey & learn. The teachers chooses& enforces a choice and the student comply. The teacher is subject of learning process, while the students are the objects. As the person with authority to decide the process and content of learning, the teacher is also given the authority to exercise punishment if students fail to comply & learn. Such punishment is felt to be necessary part of the pedagogy & important for child’s upbringing. Corporal punishment is believed to have toughening impact on boys. Many students see corporal punishment as normal feature of their education. Teachers even trend to treat children with disabilities, children from lower caste or class with contempt and often physically & verbally abuse them. In a study carried out on the effectiveness of child’s right training in Pakistan, it was found that children with disabilities suffered from further lowering of self – esteemed and feelings of self worth because teachers often call them by their disabilities, girls are at greater risk of sexual abuse. Read More…



1) Guidelines for eliminating corporal punishment in schools

Children are subject to corporal punishment in schools; institutions meant for care and protection of children such as hostels, orphanages, ashram shalas, and juvenile homes; and even in the family setting. A study ‘Child Abuse in India – 2007’, by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, found that 69% of children reported having been physically abused…………….

2)National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights,Delhi,Dec.2008 : Protection of children against Corporal Punishment in schools and institutions :

The state legislatures in a few states have given due recognition to the issue and introduced and amended legislations to abolish corporal punishment in law. The Goa Children’s Actcategorically states in Sec 4 (2) ‘Corporal Punishment is banned in all schools.’ Many State Education Acts have been amended as well, particularly in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The ‘education departments’ in many states have also issued orders and circulars, with theGovernment of Puducherry (Pondicherry) starting as early as 2001…

3) PLAN India : Impact of Corporal Punishment on school student.

This study looks at the incidence and the extent of corporal punishment on school children and the impact it inflicts on them. The study was carried out in four states of India: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

4) Corporal Punishment in schools in Andhra Pradesh, India.

There is national and international concern about the effects of corporal punishment upon children, and its implications for their capacity to benefit from school, yet corporal punishment is still widely used in schools all over the world,despite being banned in national legislation in most countries…

5) Corporal Punishment violation of Child Rights in schools.

The child is father of an adult. The child is an abridged adult with rights which cannot be abridged. The Child is a person for all practical purposes. The child observes, thinks and imitates or reacts to happenings around. The child is a person. Either at home or school, the child is subjected to disciplinary practices while, child should be part of those processes…

6) Government of Orissa : Department of Education / issues prohibition of corporal punishment in schools.

The Department of School and Mass Education issued letter to all inspectors & All D.I of schools to ban corporal punishment…….

7) NASP : Position statement

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) opposes the use of corporal punishment in schools and supports ending its use in all schools. Further, NASP resolves to educate the public about the effects of corporal punishment, to provide alternatives to its use, and to encourage research and the dissemination of information about corporal punishment’s effects and alternatives…….

8) SAIEVAC Technical paper on ending Corporal punishment.

Violence against children in South Asia cuts across social, cultural, religious and ethnic lines. Children experience violence in a range of settings including at home, in schools, in care and in judicial systems and institutions, at workplaces and within their communities. Under its strategic framework, one of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children’s (SAIEVAC’s) major specific aims is to reinforce regional cooperation on ending corporal punishment in the region…

9) Prohibition of Corporal punishment of children in South Asia.

An important work of SAIEVAC is to support governments to develop and enforce national legislative measures, in line with the UNCRC and other international and regional legal instruments and agreements, and to address key protection issues. Corporal punishment is one of them and affects millions of children in South Asia, making it one of the most common and socially accepted violations of child rights to protection. SAIEVAC’s objective is that “all States have identified the necessary

actions and measures to prohibit all corporal punishment in all settings including law reform and are reinforcing positive parenting practices and positive classroom management programs…

10) UNICEF : Corporal Punishment in schools in South Asia

Corporal punishment is a common phenomena in the daily life of South Asian children – at home , in schools, in places of work & in their neighborhood…



11) The Right to Education Act (9), No Corporal Punishment

Children should be punished only after obtaining approval from the parents. Some parents may even agree to corporate punishment. Should it be accepted?Punishment is regarded normal in schools and families, often even considered necessary for children to grow into responsible individuals. It is so pervasive that a child does not realize that his rights are being impinged upon. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” was a common saying. It is now well recognized that punishment in any form harms the overall development of a child………….

12) Advisory for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools under Section 35 (1) of the RTE Act, 2009.

Children are at times, subject to corporal punishment in schools; institutions meant for care and protection ofchildren.A study „Child Abusein India –2007‟, by the Ministry of Women and ChildDevelopment, Governmentof India, found that every two out of three school children reported facing corporal punishment…

13) Right to Education Act & Corporal Punishment : Dr. Pinki Mallik

Orderliness in schools is an asset for the students as well as school where as disorderliness, in all

probability, may obstruct and even lead to disruptionof the entire process of learning. School disorder is assuch a problem in it own right…

14) Corporal punishment in school: A Medico-legal view / Dr.C.S.Makhani

“Children do not lose their human rights by passing through the school gates…. education must be provided in a way that respects the inherent dignity of the child..that  respects the strict limits on discipline ….. and promotes nonviolence in schools”

(UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 1, 2001)…



15) Indian government bans Corporal Punishment in schools / New Delhi / NDTV / 20th July 2010 :Spare the rods or end up in jail. That’s the latest warning to teachers who resort to corporal punishment. The Ministry of Women & Child Development has issued guidelines that bans physical punishment of students…

16) Strengthen law say expert / The Hindu / Bengaluru 2ndFeb.2015 :While the focus has extensively been on child sexual abuse in recent years, what might have gone under the radar are cases of corporal punishment in schools. Although courts and the government have categorically been stating that corporal punishment of all forms is banned, experts argue that legal provisions against corporal punishment need to be strengthened…

17) No Corporal punishment C.B.S.E reminds schools / THE TIMES OF INDIA /27th June 2014 :NAGPUR: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has reminded all its affiliated schools to keep out corporal punishment at every cost. Though corporal punishment has been banned in schools across the country, incidents keep happening, due to which all boards work on sensitizing their staff………

18) Over 99% Children hit, slapped in school: Survey / THE TIMES OF INDIA / 2nd March 2012.

19) CORPORAL PUNISHMENT /  IBN Live / NEW DELHI: Children across the country are being caned, slapped, hit and if they’re lucky, let off with their ears boxed by teachers and school authorities, a study by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has found…….


Rajasthan boy hangs himself after teacher beats him up Jaipur: A 16-year-old student of a state-run school in Rajasthan has committed suicide allegedly due to humiliation, harassment and beating by a teacher. The teacher was arrested, police said Monday.


Image: Flickr  via brostad

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