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End Corporal Punishment in Homes and Schools (Reference resource)

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Lawfulness of corporal punishment

Home

Children have limited protection from violence and abuse under the Penal Code, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (2000, amended 2006), the Protection of Child Rights Act (2005) and the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005, in effect 2006). Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act punishes cruelty to children: “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 to be assaulted, abandoned, exposed or neglected in a manner likely to cause such juvenile or the child unnecessary mental or physical suffering shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or fine, or with both.”

The National Charter for Children (2003) states (article 9): “(a) All children have a right to be protected against neglect, maltreatment, injury, trafficking, sexual and physical abuse of all kinds, corporal punishment, torture, violence and degrading treatment. (b) The State shall take legal action against those committing such violations against children even if they be legal guardians of such children. (c) The State shall in partnership with the community set up mechanisms for identification, reporting, referral, investigation and follow-up of such acts, while respecting the dignity and privacy of the child. (d) The State shall in partnership with the community take up steps to draw up plans for the identification, care, protection, counselling and rehabilitation of child victims and ensure that they are able to recover, physically, socially and psychologically, and re-integrate into society.”

An Offences Against Children (Prevention) Bill has been drafted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development. As at June 2006 the draft retained the right to punish a child, with section 21 stating: “Corporal Punishment on a Child – Whoever intentionally inflicts physical penalty on a child, for disciplinary purposes, and commits the offence of Hurt or Grievous Hurt as a result of such penalty, shall be liable for the offence of Corporal Punishment on a child.” The accompanying explanation states: “(2) For the purposes of this Section, the offence of ‘Hurt’ shall include any form of persistent beating, battering, pinching, twisting or any other such act, inflicted upon a child by any person, by any means, upon the body of the child; (3) Nothing in the Sections referred above shall be an offence, if the Hurt rendered on a child is commensurate to the act undertaken by the child and is not unreasonable and does not harm the physical integrity of the child’s body.” As at April 2007, the Bill was still under discussion and awaiting approval by the Cabinet.

Schools

There is no national prohibition in law of corporal punishment in schools. The government has issued instructions to states to stop its use in schools and the National Policy on Education (1986, modified 1992) states in section 5.6 that “corporal punishment will be firmly excluded from the educational systems”. A draft Free and Compulsory Education for Children Bill which proposes prohibiting corporal punishment in schools, applicable to the whole of India, was under discussion in April 2005. Section 70 of the Offences Against Children (Prevention) Bill (see above) states: “(1) All schools and educational institutions shall facilitate a ‘Personal Safety Education’ to empower a child and make them aware of their rights and what can be done, if their rights are violated; (2) Every school and educational institution shall at periodical intervals and at Parent Teachers Associations, facilitate discussions with the parents and the teachers on empowering children and undertaking measures to protect their rights.”

One of the goals for education in the 2005 National Plan of Action for Children is to “Take measures to prohibit and eliminate corporal punishment in all schools and learning facilities” (para. 10.2.17). Among the strategies listed is “Take appropriate legal and administrative action to prohibit and punish corporal punishment in schools and learning facilities” (para. 10.3.20). One of the strategies listed under Child Participation is “Establish a child-friendly education system that enables effective development and participation of children, encourages democratic, gender-sensitive curriculum, teaching methods, eliminates corporal punishment and incorporates the principle of involving children in designing and managing effective, safe and protective learning environments” (para. 17.3.13).

In December 2000, the Delhi High Court ruled that provisions for corporal punishment in the Delhi School Education Act (1973) were inhumane and detrimental to the dignity of children, stating that the “National Policy (on education adopted by the Centre in 1992), in tune with the International Convention on Children, has adopted a child-centric approach where corporal punishment has no place in the education system. Even otherwise, India being a signatory to the convention is obliged to protect the child from physical or mental or injury while the child is in the care of any person, may be educational institution, parents or legal guardian”. Seven states/territories have prohibited corporal punishment in schools in law, others have prohibited by ministerial direction (see table below). 

Penal system

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, which prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and does not list corporal punishment among permitted measures (article 15). The Act applies to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir. Corporal punishment is imposed under traditional justice systems, such as the Pipon system.

Corporal punishment is lawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions. Under the Juvenile Justice Act (1986), children sentenced to detention could be sent to children’s homes and homes for rehabilitation, where corporal punishment is routinely used. The Act also stated that any person in whose custody the juvenile is placed has parental control (article 55). This Act has been replaced by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (2000), which  makes no provision for corporal punishment, but states that “any person in whose charge a juvenile is placed in pursuance of this Act shall, while the order is in force, have the control over the juvenile as he would have if he were his parents” (section 11).

 Other laws relating to the use of corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions are the Child Labour Abolition Act, the Delhi Police Act, the Juvenile Act (1960, with amendments) and the Delhi School Education Rules (Amended). Section 21 of the Offences Against Children (Prevention) Bill (see above) applies.

Alternative care

There is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment in other institutions and forms of childcare. Article 24 of the Guardians and Wards Act (1890) (“Duties of guardian of the person”) states: “A guardian of the person of a ward is charged with the custody of the ward and must look to his support, health and education….” Guardianship may be removed for ill-treatment (article 39). Child care centres are covered by the Children Act. Other laws applicable to the use of corporal punishment and protection from abuse in alternative care settings include the Juvenile Justice Act, the Delhi Police Act, the Probation of Offenders Act (1959), the Women and Children’s Institution (Licensing) Act (1956), the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (1956) and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. Section 21 of the Offences Against Children (Prevention) Bill (see above) applies.

The first objective of the 2005 National Plan of Action for Children, in the section on children in difficult circumstances, is “To protect all children against neglect, maltreatment, injury, trafficking, sexual and physical abuse of all kinds, pornography, corporal punishment, torture, exploitation, violence, and degrading treatment” (para. 11.2.1).

Workplace

No information.

Prevalence research

In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development, published the first nationwide study on child abuse in India, based on the experiences of 12,447 children aged 5-18 years from across 13 states and also involving 2,324 young adults (aged 18-24) and 2,449 stakeholders (adults holding positions in government departments, private service and urban and rural local bodies, and individuals from the community). The study revealed a high prevalence of corporal punishment of children in all the settings – their family homes, schools, institutions and on the streets. Of the total number of children, 69% reported physical abuse, including corporal punishment, in one or more situations, more commonly (54.68%) boys and young children (48.29%). In the 5-12 age group, nearly three out of four (72.2)% reported physical abuse in one or more situations, in the 13-14 year age group 70.61%, and among 15-18 year olds 62.13%. Of children abused within the family, in the majority of cases the perpetrators were parents (reported by 88.6% of respondents – 50.9% mothers, 37.6% fathers). The second most commonly reported perpetrators were teachers (44.8%), followed by employers (12.39%), caregivers (9.45%), NGO workers (4.78%) and others. The difference between boys and girls was marginal, but age was significant, with young children aged 5-12 the most vulnerable and the risk declining for children aged 13-14 and again for adolescents aged 15-18. The most commonly reported punishment was being slapped and kicked (63.67%), followed by being beaten with a stave or stick (31.31%), and being pushed, shaken, etc (5.02%). For many (15.6%) the hurt resulted in serious physical injury, swelling or bleeding. When stakeholders were asked for their views on physical/corporal punishment, over 44.54% felt it was necessary in disciplining children; 25.45% disagreed with its necessity; 30.01% expressed no opinion. When asked about most suitable form of punishment for discipline, 35.24% said scolding or shouting, 11.31% slapping or beating with a stick, almost 11% felt locking a child in a room or denying food was suitable punishment.(Kacker, L., Varadan, S. & Kumar, P., 2007, Study on Child Abuse: India 2007, New Dehli: Ministry of Women and Child Development)

A large scale research study conducted in May 2006 by Saath Charitable Trust and supported by Plan International (India) looked at children’s experiences of corporal punishment in schools and in the home in one district in each of four states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The research involved 1,591 children mostly from 41 schools as well as members of various children’s organisations. Parents, teachers (215) community members, government officials and other adults were also consulted. The main methods used were interviews, focus group discussions, and role play and classroom observation. The study found corporal punishment to be an accepted way of life in all the schools and communities visited. The most common forms of punishments were hitting with hands and stick, pulling hair and ears, and telling children to stand for long period in various positions. Threats of physical violence were also common. Severe forms of corporal punishment were also encountered, including being severely kicked, starvation, tying with rope to chairs/poles followed by beatings, and being assigned physically strenuous labour (e.g. in the fields). In all schools, there would be at least five beatings every day, in addition to other more moderate forms of punishment, though the punishments were less severe than those experienced in the home. Punishment in the home was inflicted by mothers and fathers on both girls and boys with equal severity, more frequently for boys. (Saath Charitable Trust/Plan International, India, 2006, Impact of Corporal Punishment on School Children: A Research Study – Final Report)

A 2004 study by the NGO Aapanach found that, of 350 children surveyed from public, private, and municipal schools, over 75% said that they received punishment at school, and nearly 60% said the most frequent form of punishment was caning or hitting with a ruler. It was common for the whole class to be punished (66%). A third (33%) reported cases of severe injury due to punishment. (Reported incities.expressindia.com, 7 April 2007)

A survey in 2004 of 1,500 adolescents in ten government schools of Chandigarh, carried out by the Advanced Pediatric Center, PGI found that the prevalence rate of corporal punishment was 22%. (Reported in Chandigarh Newsline, 21 June 2007)

In a study carried out in Chandigarh in 1986-87, it was found that 98.3% of parents were in favour of physical punishment, and out of 187 school-going children aged 6-10 years, 160 received beatings at home (Butterflies, 2003, My Name is Today: A Dossier on Children and Children’s Rights. Vol.II: Children and Protection Issues (New Delhi, India: Butterflies Advocacy and Research Centre. Cited in Jabeen, F., 2004, Corporal/physical and psychological punishment of girls and boys in South and Central Asia Region, Save the Children Sweden Denmark).

A survey of university students revealed that 91% of males and 86% of females reported having been physically punished as children(Save the Children, 2001, Ending corporal punishment of children: Making it happen. Cited in Regional Study on Violence Against Children in South Asia: Working document for South Asia Regional Consultation, 19-21 May 2005, Islamabad, Pakistan).

A 1996 study supported by UNICEF found that 66% of children in the state of Maharashtra reported being regularly punished by their teachers in class. In Tamil Nadu state the corresponding figure was 87%, with similar prevalence figures in urban and rural schools.
(Mode, 1996, “Attitudes Study on Elementary Education in India: A Consolidated Report”, A Study Sponsored by UNICEF India, cited in UNICEF, Corporal punishment in schools in South Asia: Submitted to the Committee on the Rights of the Child Day of General Discussion on Violence against Children, 28 September 2001)

As part of the World Studies of Abuse in the Family Environment (WorldSAFE) cross-national project, researchers looked at incidence rates for corporal punishment using the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale, as self-reported by mothers covering the period of the previous 6 months. In rural areas of India, “severe physical punishment” was reported as follows: hitting the child with an object not on the buttocks 36%, kicking 10%, choking 2%, burning 1%, threatening with a knife or gun 1%. “Moderate physical punishment” was reported as follows: spanked buttocks with hand 58%, slapped face or head 58%, pulled hair 29%, hit with knuckles 28%, hit with object on buttocks 23%, pinched child 17%, twisted ear 16%, shook child 12%, put hot pepper in mouth 3%, forced to kneel/stand in uncomfortable position 2%.(Reported in Krug, E. G. et al. (eds) (2002), World report on violence and health, Geneva: World Health Organization)

Recommendations by human rights treaty bodies

Committee on the Rights of the Child

“The Committee notes the decision of the New Delhi High Court of December 2000 regarding prohibition of corporal punishment in the schools under its jurisdiction, but remains concerned that corporal punishment is not prohibited in the schools of other states, in the family, nor in other institutions for children, and remains acceptable in society.

“The Committee strongly recommends that the State party prohibit corporal punishment in the family, in schools and other institutions and undertake education campaigns to educate families, teachers and other professionals working with and/or for children on alternative ways of disciplining children.”
(26 February 2004, CRC/C/15/Add.228, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 44 and 45)

“With respect to article 37 (a) of the Convention, the Committee is concerned by numerous reports of routine ill-treatment, corporal punishment, torture and sexual abuse of children in detention facilities, and alleged instances of killings of children living and/or working on the streets by law enforcement officials.

“Amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act is recommended to provide for complaints and prosecution mechanisms for cases of custodial abuse of children. In addition, the Committee recommends the amendment of section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which requires government approval for prosecution of law enforcement officials when complaints of custodial abuse or illegal detention are alleged; and section 43 of the Police Act, so that police cannot claim immunity for actions while executing a warrant in cases of illegal detention or custodial abuse.

“In the light of articles 19 and 39 of the Convention, the Committee is concerned at the widespread ill-treatment of children in India, not only in schools and care institutions but also within the family.

“The Committee recommends that the State party take legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse of children in the family, schools and care institutions. The Committee recommends that these measures be accompanied by public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment of children. The Committee recommends that the State party promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment, especially in the home and schools. Programmes for the rehabilitation and reintegration of abused children need to be strengthened, and adequate procedures and mechanisms established to receive complaints, monitor, investigate and prosecute instances of ill-treatment.”
(23 February 2000, CRC/C/15/Add.115, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 38, 40, 44 and 45)

Legal status of corporal punishment of children in India
KEY:

Corporal punishment prohibited = Corporal punishment prohibited

Corporal punishment permitted = Corporal punishment permitted

Corporal punishment status unknown = Corporal punishment status unknown

Click for additional information = Click for additional information

Note on schools: Corporal punishment in schools is regulated at state/territory level. It is prohibited at federal level as a matter of policy.

Note on penal system: Corporal punishment is prohibited as a sentence for crime throughout India, except Jammu and Kashmir, under the the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act but it is imposed under traditional justice systems.

State/territory

Prohibited in the home

Prohibited in schools

Prohibited in the penal system

Prohibited in alternative care settings

As a sentence for crime

As a disciplinary measure in penal institutions

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Permitted in the home

Permitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Andhra Pradesh

Permitted in the home

Prohibited in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Arunachal Pradesh

Permitted in the home

Permitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Assam

Permitted in the home

Permitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Bihar

Permitted in the home

Permitted in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Chandigarh

Permitted in the home

Permitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Chhattisgarh

Permitted in the home

Prohibited in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Permitted in the home

Permitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Daman and Diu

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Goa

Permitted in the homeProhibited in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Gujarat

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Haryana

Permitted in the home

Permitted in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Himachal Pradesh

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Jammu and Kashmir

Permitted in the homeProhibited in schools Click for additional information

Corporal punishment status unknown Click for additional information

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Jharkhand

Permitted in the home

Permitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Karnataka

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Kerala

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.

Permitted in alternative care.

Lakshadweep

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Madhya Pradesh

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Maharashtra

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Manipur

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Meghalaya

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Mizoram

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Nagaland

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

National Capital Territory of Delhi

Permitted in the homeProhibited in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Orissa

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Puducherry

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Punjab

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Rajasthan

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Sikkim

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Tamil Nadu

Permitted in the homeProhibited in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Tripura

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Uttar Pradesh

Permitted in the homePermitted in schools Click for additional information

SOME

Permitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

Uttarakhand

Permitted in the homePermitted in schoolsSOMEPermitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

West Bengal

Permitted in the homeProhibited in schools Click for additional informationSOMEPermitted in penal system as a disciplinary measure.Permitted in alternative care.

This analysis has been compiled from information from governmental and non-governmental sources, including reports on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every effort is made to maintain its accuracy. Please send us updating information and details of sources for missing information: info@endcorporalpunishment.org.

4 comments:

Rajesh, Delhi said...

This is a very interesting article. There is a problem with the formatting, and the edge of the article is not seen. I went through the cross-reference.
Please sort it out.

Voice of Women (VOW) said...

Thanks for the comment. I'll sort out the formatting later.Regards, Roshni

editor said...

A great article. We think corporal punishment is a disease in our society which needs quick attention at all levels. We at Plan India address this issue through a campaign called Learn Without Fear which has a vision or creating a fear free learning environment for all children across societies. We use www.learnwithoutfear.in a forum for children to voice their opinions and thoughts against violence and punishment in their respective school premises

Roshni Mathan Pereira said...

Thanks for the comment.

Abuse starts at HOME. Abuse continues in SCHOOL (which is like a SECOND HOME) and Abuse continues in the workplace (Which is like the SECOND TEMPLE).