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80% school children are beaten up, 91% parents "approve" of it: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A recent report, prepared by researchers with the civil rights group, Agrasar, has revealed that of the 521 children from marginalized groups surveyed in Gurugram, Haryana, 80% said they are punished at school. Based on data collected from semi-urban communities in Gurugram, the report’s conclusions also take into account survey 100 parents, personal interviews with 26 children, three focus group discussions and one seasonal calendar exercise with 29 parents.
According to the report, titled “Choking Childhood: School Corporal Punishment - Everyday Violence Faced by Disadvantaged Children in India”, responses in the interview sample suggest that the number of children experiencing punishment might be as high as 100%”, regretting, “The large majority of parents (91%) do not only approve of corporal punishment but also uses it at home.” Thus, “71% of children said they are beaten up at home, while 74% of parents admit to it.”
The report says, “Our survey found that an average of 43% of children is beaten regularly, up to three times per week, by their teachers, but the number varies greatly between schools. In some schools, 88% of students are beaten regularly, while in others ‘only’ 30%.” In fact, “Children are told by their teachers and parents that corporal punishment with "a good reason" is necessary.”
The combined result of all this is that, according to the report, “Children find themselves trapped in an abusive environment with little chance of escape. Some evidence suggests that older children are less likely to experience school corporal punishment, compared to younger children. However, when looking at disadvantaged children we find little difference between ages. The frequency and severity of punishment are similar, only the forms are different.”
Pointing out that “gender does not seem to be a major risk factor to experience corporal punishment”, and “there are gender-specific forms of punishment”, with girls experiencing “sexist verbal abuse and humiliating forms of punishment”, the report, however, states, “Boys in upper primary schools receive more physical punishment than girls.”
Agreeing that there are also “teachers who never use corporal punishment”, the report says,
“Disadvantaged children experience both ‘mild’ and severe forms of physical punishment as well as verbal harassment referring to their ‘bad upbringing’. Younger children and boys are more prone to physical abuse, while older students and girls tend to receive more verbal harassment by their teachers.”
Stating that the children interviewed “experience” physical punishment in different ways, the report says, “The forms that are described by the children as ‘least painful’ and ‘not so serious’ include making the students stand in class for the whole period, sometimes with their hands raised, pulling their ears or hair, doing sit-ups, making them stand outside and also slapping them in the face.”
It adds, “While slapping is typically perceived as an act of utter disrespect and therefore as a very serious act of violence, the children experience it so often that many of them said they like certain teachers because they ‘only slap’. Other forms of punishment include not allowing the children to use the bathroom, even if the student asks multiple times, or pinching them in the abdomen.”
As for “more painful forms”, the report says, these include “hitting the knuckles with a duster or scale, and caning the children on their calves, both of which are very hurtful to children as those body parts are sensitive.” Then, “teachers also punish children by threatening to expel them from school or embarrassing them in front of the class, which, according to the children, has a strong and lasting impact on them.”
The report further says, “Not only are children subjected to severe forms of violence, it is also accompanied by psychological torture. For example, several children gave account of a teacher who does not just bang his students' heads against the wall, but turns it into a ‘game’ where he pretends three or four times before he eventually strikes the child's head against the classroom wall.”
It adds, “In another instance a girl child who had a fractured leg was chased through the classroom by her teacher, who then grabbed the girl’s hair and hit her. The children also told us about a teacher who tears apart their books and throws the pieces into the dirt outside the classroom.”
The report continues, “Disadvantaged children experience mental abuse mainly in reference to their low socio-economic status. Teachers use ‘Bihari’ or ‘Bengali’ as a disparaging term for all students who are not locals, and call them ‘donkey’, ‘good for nothing’, ‘uneducated’, ‘illiterate’ and that they had ‘a bad upbringing’.”
As for gender-specific punishment, while “boys are pinched in their abdomen and rib cage and girls are caned on their thighs”, teachers make “sexist comments to girl students about marriage, adolescence, their looks, age and weight etc., and often ‘recommend’ marriage instead of education.”
The report says, “Also, female children are often not considered of equal capabilities and skills compared to their male peers, especially in technical subjects such as math or science. Many teachers do not interfere when boys bully girls or put down a girl's work in front of the class, which instills toxic gender stereotypes in children and teaches boys how to ‘shut up’ girls and ‘put them in their place’."

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
As per a law recently passed, teachers who beat pupils are punished: either fined or jailed depending on the severity of the punishment meted out by them. As is usual in India, the people most concerned are not aware of it.
Rohit Shukla said…
It is very well known that the children are beaten, it is equally well known that parents rarely oppose it. The sample size is too thin and the sample area is very small. Only new point is regarding no. of beatings.

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