Sunday, Feb 18, 2018 | Last Update : 10:46 AM IST
Teacher had made kids of Class 6 slap a girl 168 times for incomplete work.
Bhopal: The principal of a private school in Madhya Pradesh has preserved a firecracker in her office cupboard as a souvenir.
The memento is a story of transformation of errant students, who were in the habit of bursting crackers in the school, through love and compassion.
"It did not require corporal punishment to inculcate sense of discipline in them. Our persuasion steeped with love, affection and care for them has reformed them," said Ajanta Hans Arora, principal of Aditya Birla Higher Secondary school at Nagda in Ujjain district of MP.
Such examples of "taming aggressive children with kindness" in schools in MP stand out amid growing incidents of "disobedient" students being subjected to brutalities by teachers.
Last month's incident, in which a teacher of Jawahar Navoday residential school in Thandla in Jhabua district had "asked" students of Class 6 to slap a girl 168 times for not completing her home work, has sparked outrage among parents and academicians.
The school authorities tried to underplay the incident describing it as "friendly slaps" failing to comprehend how the incident has impacted the tender mind of the girl psychologically.
Psychologist Manorama Chaturvedy said, "Extreme forms of corporal punishment leave deep scars in a child's mind, which manifest as abnormal behaviour later in its life."
Madhya Pradesh Commission of Protection of Child Rights (MPCPCR) chairman Raghavendra Sharma told this newspaper, "We have sought a report from the local district education officer on the Thandla incident. The erring teacher as well as the school management will be taken to task after we receive the report. This is worst kind of corporal punishment."
Official records have revealed that incidents of corporal punishments in both government and private schools in MP have doubled from 35 in 2016-17 to 70 in 2017-18, so far. The child rights body has received 471 complaints of school using corporal punishment since 2009-10. Action has been taken erring teachers in 254 cases during the period.
"The official figure of incidents of teacher brutalities against school students does not reflect the real ground situation as many incidents are hushed up by schools," said child rights activist and former member of MPCPCR Vibhansu Joshi.
He recalled an incident in a residential school in Bhopal where a stick wielding teacher used to thrash starving, underprivileged children when they asked for food.
"I was in the team of the committee set up by the commission to probe the matter. We could not hold our tears when the inmates of the residential school, run by a voluntary organisation, recounted their tale," said Mr Joshi.
He feels Section 17 of Right to Eduction (RTE) Act, 2015 is not adequate to curb corporal punishment. There is a need for a law to exclusively deal with the menace.
Section 17 of RTE Act, 2018 deals broadly with atrocities, mental and physical, against children. Teachers say that due to this tough law they don't feel comfortable in disciplining students.
"The law has certainly hit the traditional teacher-student bonding," said Sojan Joseph, principal of Fr. Angel Co-Ed Senior Secondary School here.
He, however, is totally against corporal punishment in any form.