Child Rights Activists call for Passing Bill against Corporal Punishment
With a rise in the number of corporal punishment cases being reported in the city, people associated with child protection feel that the bill against corporal punishment should be passed by the state assembly at the earliest. They feel that stricter punishment could contribute to checking the menace of corporal punishment.
The Corporal Punishment for Educational Institutions (Prohibition) Bill was presented before the state assembly in 2010 but it could not be passed due to the opposition from some teachers’ associations.
“We have already written to the chief minister and the education minister requesting them to pass the Corporal Punishment for Educational Institutions (Prohibition) Bill 2010 in the Assam assembly to completely ban such form of punishment,” said Miguel Das Queah, a city-based child rights activist.
Queah added that every school teacher should be trained in the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) guidelines on alternative child management techniques and on following positive discipline techniques.
Activists feel that there could be several cases of corporal punishment which remain under wraps. “We can only imagine how many cases go unreported from remote areas of the state and often, in a majority of these cases, no action is taken by the authorities,” said an activist.
Additionally, Uttam Teron - an education activist from Guwahati believes that the problem must be looked into from the perspective of all the stakeholders including the teachers, school authorities, students and guardians.
“Every teacher will have to take equal responsibility with a view to eliminate corporal punishment from schools. All teachers should own their responsibility and must know how to handle situations tactfully without using any form of negative reinforcement on children,” said Teron.
NCPCR guidelines for eliminating corporal punishment in schools
The NCPCR under the Ministry of Women & Child Development has framed certain guidelines for eliminating corporal punishment in schools. Such a form of punishment is also banned under Section 17 of the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
These guidelines call for the constitution of Special Monitoring Cells in order to ensure quick action in case of harassment or physical punishment given to children. These cells should also hear complaints related to corporal punishment within 48 hours of the incident.
The guidelines state that school teachers need to give a written undertaking that they will not engage in any action which could amount to physical punishment, mental harassment or discrimination.
The national panel has also suggested that schools should be granted affiliation and recognition only after they ensure that they have a corporal punishment free environment. Further, physical punishment or mental harassment should become grounds for withdrawal of affiliation.
The guidelines mandate that annual audits should be conducted in schools for checking physical punishment, mental harassment and discrimination.
The NCPCR has also come up with a set of guidelines that lay emphasis on the need for positive engagement with children. It suggests that teachers should encourage students and appreciate good efforts by them. The students must also be sensitised regularly on issues such as drug abuse, coping with stress, self- esteem and decision making among others.
The guidelines also suggest that these issues should also be discussed during parent-teacher meetings.
The national body had conducted a study of more than 6,000 students in 2010 across seven states. It revealed that 81.2 per cent students had faced some or the other form of verbal abuse.
Child protection authorities say that these guidelines need to be implemented by the state education department and that school teachers should also be educated on laws related to the welfare of children and child protection.
Former chairperson of the ASCPCR, Rumini Gogoi said, “Teachers should be provided training about child rights. A majority of them are not aware about the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Right to Education Act (RTE).”