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Corporal Punishment: a wrong, not a right

The dictionary definition of corporal punishment defines a physical punishment which is intended to cause physical pain to a person.


Ideally, corporal punishment‘s impact does not limit itself to physical pain. it may lead to more immediate compliant behaviour in children or adults, but it’s effect goes beyond: to mental and psychological abuse. Research says that children who were physically punished throughout their childhood are more prone to use violence against their own children and partners. They even have a higher risk of becoming law offenders.

Corporal punishment has been in vogue around the world since ancient times. The entire system of governance in society was based on corporal punishment.

There was a time when the slogan “spare the rod and spoil the child” was accepted as common wisdom. But the evidence is mounting that harsh discipline is actually detrimental to children and damaging to society. Nations now recognize that corporal punishment violates the rights of the child, offends children’s dignity and harms their development. No matter how well intentioned, spanking is a wrong and not a “right”.


I have been a victim of corporal punishment more than once and it left a very deep impact on me as a child. I have never forgotten one such incident. Eighth class exams were over and results were awaited.


The results were prepared by teachers in one room. Some of us were sitting in school varandah chatting. Suddenly one of sardar teachers, not connected with my class, came charging and started hitting me. He said, you were peeing in to the staff room, where results are being prepared. I kept on repeating I am innocent, my friends also pleaded that he was sitting here with us and never left this place. It has to be some one else.


The teacher refused to listen. He kept beating me and got angrier by the second. I had bruises on my face and my specs were broken. He never showed any concern for the broken glasses. He literally dragged me to the head master's room. I explained every thing to the head master and showed him my broken spectacles. The headmaster knew me as I was in the cricket team. He asked the teacher to leave, and told me to go and get my eyes cheched and new spectacles made. If there was a problem, he said, he would help me. I think he believed me and felt bad that I was beaten up so badly.

The next problem was how to tell my mother. If I narrated the true happening, she would go to my school to sort out the matter. I did not want that.

Problem number 3 was that broken specs also meant additional expenditure and we could not afford it.


I told my mother a lie that I had fallen on the ground and specs hit the ground. She believed me. Well, she got my new specks made, an expenditure of ten rupees. I felt guilty. But what was option. Confrontation at school or avoiding the situation. Well, I chose later option.

Corporal punishment was common in schools and even at home. Another teacher in our class was rough and crude in his method of punishment. He would force head of student on desk and slap hard on face and ears. Canning was also common.

One of our teachers was immensely proud of his lean and mean cane which was highly elastic. He would tell students to be aware of this can which was dipped in mustard oil once a week. His canning literally left you red and blue. Corporal punishment was common not only in India and other Asian countries but also Britain and other parts of world.We could conclude that it was a global phenomenon.


Thank god, this evil practice is no more. Corporal punishment has been banned in schools. Now stress is on friendly relations between student and teacher. Even parents believe in being friends with children.


I do not know in which category such teachers could be placed. They exploited students through other methods. Looks strange but it is true. Our teacher in class three did not know Hindi but was teaching in Hindi medium school. He was a victim of partition and came to Delhi from now Pakistan in 1947. He was posted in our school and was our class teacher. I was monitor of class. He would ask me to read a chapter and then he would explain it to class. He would ask me and two others to check home work. He even asked us to examine answer sheets during school examinations. We would read answers to him and he would evaluate them. He was very fond of lassi and asked in the class, who lives nearer to school.

Some students would raise hands. His next question was in which home lassi would be available. Some students would again raise hand . He would ask one of them to get lassi. He would also ask us to observe silence for one period, during which he would have his nap.


Once school inspector came on round of school and came to inspect our class. He asked our teacher to take a particular lesson. Our teacher played real cool and asked me, Harish, get up and read the lesson. Inspector told teacher that he had to take lesson.


Our teacher told inspector bluntly, sir, I did not know Hindi. In my previous school, now in Pakistan, medium of instruction was Urdu. Head master sahib knew it and even education department knew about it. I had already applied for transfer to Urdu medium school.

The Inspector left our class in a huff. Whom would you blame for such a lapse. The country had just attained independence. Educational policy was being put in place.

But by and by, educational policy was evolved and Educational system fell in place.

In India, corporal punishment is banned in schools, daycare and alternative child care institutions. Corporal punishment is prohibited in schools under the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE Act).


Teachers now are mostly friendly. Even at homes, parents have learnt alternate methods of raising their children.

I think it’s a crime to instill fear in a young child through abuse when we should be giving them wings to fly and roots to feel grounded.

No person has a “right” to strike another, no matter how close the relationship. As Aamir Khan said in one of his movies, these children are little stars on the earth. Let us cherish them.


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