Monday, August 01, 2011

Corporal Punishment; A Hindrance on Retention in School

Mr. Parikshita Sahu, Lecturer in K hurda, Odisha


In almost all societies, starting from pre-historical ages to modern ages, children are physically punished in response to wrong doings either in the home or in their learning centres. The term corporal punishment with respect to children means the physical violence against children. Actually children need discipline, and particularly need to learn self-discipline. To implement this concept in the case of the children, corporal punishment in a mild degree may be desirable as it has a corrective value. But in many cases, it has been creating some detrimental effects in achieving the objectives of Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE). For that reason only in government sponsored primary education programmes, instead of corporal punishment they preferred to encourage “Joyful Learning”


Description: C:\Users\vivekumrao\Documents\GRM Pvt Ltd\GRI-print-issues\GRI-First-Edition\photos-gri-first\corporal-punishment-01.jpgThe Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) has three important aspects: access, enrolment and retention of all children in the age bracket of 6-14 years. This goal of UEE has further been accelerated by the 86th Amendment Act of the Indian Constitution, which makes free and compulsory elementary education a Fundamental Right for all school going children. Under Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan (SSA) quality education has been equally emphasized, along with universal enrolment, universal retention and universal access. In India, the government has achieved a lot with respect to access and enrolment of children; the SSA has used enrolment drives like AROHANA, to achieve 100% enrolment. But the problem lies with retention. To achieve quality primary education, the main thrust for all educational thinkers is retention, irrespective of area and whether tribal or non-tribal. There are many constraints on the path to achieving a sound retention rate. Actually, the main causes of low retention rate in the State and Nation are migration of children with their parents, taking care of younger siblings; engagement in cattle grazing, collection of forest products and the like. In addition to this, the role of corporal punishment in school cannot be underestimated for encouraging low retention rates.

Every social phenomenon is surrounded by a set of social values. Punishment or corporal punishment is no exception to this. Punishment, discipline, and positive disciplining are the three key ideas. Punishment is defined as an "undesirable event that follows an instance of unacceptable behavior and is intended to decrease the frequency of that behavior." Two key features define corporal punishment: physical violence against children, and the concept of punishment in response to “wrong doing”.

Physical punishment or corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain intended to discipline or reform a wrongdoer or to change an undesirable attitude or behaviour. Accordingly, the term “Discipline” has three distinct meanings: (a) “punishment for a violation of a work rule or direct order” (b) “training that molds and strengthens the employee's behaviour”, and (c) “control gained by enforced obedience”. From these three definitions, one can see that discipline not only has a corrective component, but also an educational one.

Corporal punishment of children is a worldwide phenomenon. Violence is at the extreme end of a range of punishments that are inflicted on children by parents, teachers, peer group members, and justice systems. Many justice systems have removed beatings as a punishment for breaking the law, but beatings are still administered for breaches of rules at school as well as home. Even many behaviour theorists question the validity of any punishment as a tool for learning, recommending instead systems of reward for positive behaviour. When parents and teachers equate “discipline” with “punishment” and couple this with violence, the consequences for children can be catastrophic. Corporal punishment also breaches fundamental rights of children to lead a life of respect, dignity, and physical integrity. The existence of special defences in state laws, excusing violence by parents, teachers and care-takers, breaches the right to equal protection under the law. Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires States to protect children from “all forms of physical or mental violence” while in the care of parents, teachers, and others.

Description: C:\Users\vivekumrao\Documents\GRM Pvt Ltd\GRI-print-issues\GRI-First-Edition\photos-gri-first\corporal-punishment-02.jpgCorporal or physical punishment is any punishment in which physical force is intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort: hitting children with a hand, or with a cane, strap or other object, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting or pulling their hair, forcing them to stay in uncomfortable positions, locking or tying them up, burning, scalding or forced ingestion etc. There are some cruellest forms of punishment that the children have received at homes. These include: Making children starve; Inflict burns on their hands; Tying to a chair with rope followed by severe beating; Beating followed by pouring chilly powder down the throat of the child if she/he cries; Tying a thick wooden rod along the child’s underarms and the back of the knees and then keep her/him suspended from the ceiling for long hours, and so on. There are other harmful and humiliating forms of punishment of children which do not involve the direct use of physical force.

Types and Forms

Corporal punishment with respect to the school-going children is of two main types:

  • Corporal punishment at home or within the family;
  • Corporal punishment in school by teachers or other school officials;

Corporal Punishment: In Schools

Description: C:\Users\vivekumrao\Documents\GRM Pvt Ltd\GRI-print-issues\GRI-First-Edition\photos-gri-first\corporal-punishment-03.jpgIn schools, teachers are very reserved to punish beyond a limit because of the perceived pressures from the parents and the communities. In extreme cases even the children could retaliate. At home, inside the home, parents do not face such pressures.

At schools, the incidence of corporal punishment was found to be quite common and alarmingly recurrent in India. In general, however, boys are punished more frequently. It violates Juvenile Justice Act, and principles laid down by the Convention of Child Rights.

Corporal punishment should never be inflicted in any recognized school on boys of classes XI and XII. The headmaster shall record in a register every case in which corporal punishment has been inflicted specifying the name, class and age of the pupil, the date the nature of the offence and amount of punishment. Very few stakeholders, including the government officials and teachers, are even aware that such legislation is already in place in some states. Many of them, parents in particular, are genuinely shocked to hear the same.

If we will consider the case of Odisha in general, it can be well explained through this table-1 as well as graph a. Need to describe Table 1 and graph a, not enough detail in these figures for easy comprehension. Please give tables and graphs headings.

Table 1

Total Children(6-14)

Out Of School Children (6-14)
















If we will analyse the case of KBK districts, we can make a comparative studies. It is expressed through table-2 and Graph-b – again describe them, label them, give title, more explanation needed.


Status of Out-of School children in KBK districts in Odisha

Total Children(6-14)

Out Of School Children (6-14)



































Corporal Punishment: At Homes

At home children face the most severe and cruel forms of punishment than in schools. In most countries, many children continue to be subjected to corporal punishment in their homes, with significant numbers suffering death or serious injury. Teachers are still authorized to beat school pupils with canes or straps; corporal punishment is also used in residential institutions and in children’s workplaces.

Some parents think that to give punishment is their duty to discipline their children,. These punishments are exercised by parents or guardians in the home, which may involve the spanking or slapping of a child with the parent's by open hand, but in many cases some may use a belt, slipper, cane or paddle. Domestic corporal punishment has now been outlawed in 24 countries around the world, beginning with Sweden in 1979. Most of these 24 countries are in Europe or Latin America.

The "Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment Of Children" (GITEACPOC) was set up in 2001 to campaign for the worldwide prohibition by law of all corporal punishment of children, even by their parents .In Africa, the Middle East, and in most parts of Eastern Asia (including China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea), corporal punishment of one's own children is lawful. In Singapore and Hong Kong, punishing one's own child with corporal punishment is legal. As many people in the region believe a certain amount of corporal punishment for their own children is appropriate and necessary, and thus such practice is accepted by society as a whole. In Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and in United States the corporal punishment in the home is lawful.

The following countries have considered corporal punishments of children, even by parents, as unlawful. Austria-1989, Bulgaria-2000, Croatia-1999, Costa-Rica-2008, Cyprus-1994, Denmark-1997, Finland-1983, Germany-2000, Greece-2007, Hungary-2004, Iceland-2003, Israel-2000, Latvia-1998, Moldova-2009, Netherlands-2007, New Zealand-2007, Norway-1987, Portugal-2007, Romania- 2004, Spain-2007, Ukraine-2004, Uruguay-2007, Venezuela-2007.

Corporal Punishment and Legal provisions in India

The Indian Penal Code Section 88 protects an act, which is not intended to cause death, done by consent in good faith for person's benefit. A head teacher who administers in good faith a moderate and reasonable corporal punishment to a pupil to enforce discipline in school is protected by this section and such an act is not crime under Section 323.

Section 89 of Indian Penal Code protects an act by guardian or by consent of guardian done in good faith for the benefit of a child under 12 years. However, this exception will not extend to cause death, or attempting to cause death, causing grievous hurt. These provisions extend to teachers having quasi-parental authority, consent or delegation of authority from parents also, of course, with exceptions. Using excessive force, causing serious injury, purpose being very unreasonable can turn the act of the guardian or teacher with the consent of guardian, an offence, because such incidents are outside the scope of "good faith".

Section 23 of new Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 provides punishment for cruelty to juvenile or child. Whoever, having the actual charge of or control over a juvenile or the child, assaults, abandons, exposes or wilfully neglects the juvenile or causes or procures him/her to be assaulted, abandoned, exposed or neglected in a manner likely to cause such juvenile/ child unnecessarily mental or physical suffering shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or fine, or with both.

In 1966, Andhra Pradesh as the first state in India to take any cognizance of corporal punishment as a social vice. Rule 39 of the Andhra Pradesh Integrated Educational Rules, 1966 lays down that corporal punishment shall not be inflicted in elementary schools.

Rule 122, of the Andhra Pradesh Integrated Educational Rules 1966; deal with imposing various kinds of fines, corporal punishments, suspension, expulsion and rustication etc. There is a restriction on imposing a corporal punishment in Rule 122 (2), which says that corporal punishment shall not be inflicted in schools except in a case of moral delinquency such as a deliberate lying, obscenity of word or act or flagrant insubordination and then it shall be limited to six cuts on the hands and be administered only by or under the supervision of the Headmaster.

Delhi (2000), Andhra Pradesh (2002), Goa (2003) have completely banned corporal punishment, while the three states: Chandigarh (1990), West Bengal (2000), and Tamilnadu (2003) have sought prohibition on that. More specifically, according to the Indian law under the Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2004 and the 86th amendment of the Indian constitution: (1) No child shall be awarded physical punishment in any recognized school. (2) Violation of sub-section (1) by a teacher shall amount to professional misconduct, and shall be liable to be punished in accordance with the disciplinary rules applicable to him / her (3) If a recognized school other than an approved school, fails to take action against a teacher as provided in subsection (2) above


Children need discipline, and particularly need to learn self-discipline. Some are of the opinion that corporal punishment is desirable as it has a huge corrective value, parents and teachers have a right to subject children to corporal punishment otherwise they would move on a wrong path and corporal punishment is a just reward for bad conduct. Actually, the corporal punishment is there at homes and in schools at large but its existence is denied by all concerned; especially the parents and the teachers.

Every developed, industrialized country in the world and many developing nations in Asia and Africa have made the violent punishment of schoolchildren illegal. In India too corporal punishment of children is “illegal”, but there remains much more to be done.

Corporal punishment is a very ineffective form of discipline. Research has consistently shown that it rarely motivates children to act differently, because it does not bring an understanding of what they ought to be doing nor does it offer any kind of reward for being good. The fact that parents, teachers and others often have to repeat corporal punishment for the same misbehavior by the same child testifies to its ineffectiveness. Smacking, spanking and beating are a poor substitute for positive forms of discipline which, far from spoiling children, ensure that they learn to think about others and about the consequences of their actions. In the countries where corporal punishment has been eliminated through mobilizing action to end all corporal punishment of children is not just about promoting one way of child-rearing. Evidence all over the world indicates a strong relationship between high rates of corporal punishment and higher rates of poor academic achievement, dropouts, juvenile delinquents, incarceration and spouse abuse. There appears to be a strong link between corporal punishment during the growing years of a child’s life, and his/her easily becoming an executor (of violence) later in life.

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