January 24, 2020
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‘A Slap Or Two Doesn’t Hurt’

Says Delhi government schoolteacher Vibha Singh

‘A Slap Or Two Doesn’t Hurt’

The Delhi High Court judgement of 2000, banning corporal punishment, has made it difficult for us to maintain discipline in schools run by the Delhi government. I’m not saying we should beat a child, but please understand, the children who come to study here are from an economic strata where the parents double up as domestic help or daily-wage labourers. And they have only one desire—to make their children literate. “Do anything to make them study, so that they don’t suffer the same fate as ours,” they tell us.

We occasionally have to slap them so that they can understand the importance of coming to school on time. It is for their welfare that we have to resort to such disciplinary measures, otherwise they won’t study at all. I know slapping is not a solution, but how else do you ensure some discipline in their lives?

The government introduced the mid-day meal so that kids come to school regularly. But it is we who have to see that they eat, and for this, we have to use a little force so that they realise the importance of standing in a queue for their turn.

How do I handle a child who urinates in his classmate’s schoolbag despite repeated warnings? How do I tell him this is unacceptable behaviour? Can the HRD ministry frame guidelines telling us how to tackle children who misbehave? Then, we have a rule asking us to integrate physically challenged children with the rest of their classmates. How do we deal with kids who pull out the hearing aids of an impaired child? We do resort to slapping only as a last measure.

I feel punishment is essential, but the child should not be put to inconvenience and punishments should not be meted out to humiliate the child. I recall having slapped a child on not more than 15 occasions in my 16 years of teaching experience.

(As told to Anuradha Raman)

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