Principal dangles student: In a disturbing incident from Uttar Pradesh, the principal of a private school in Mirzapur reportedly dangled a class two student off the building as a form of “punishment.” The child was allegedly being “naughty” and Manoj Vishwakarma hung him upside-down mid-air by one leg to “teach him a lesson.” He only pulled the child back up once he begged for forgiveness. As per reports, this took place on October 28 at Sadbhavna Shikshan Sansthan Junior High School.
A photo of the student, suspended while his peers watch on from the balcony, has gone viral on social media, inviting valid rage. It’s unbelievable, in fact, that such an incident can even take place. According to reports, the Mirzapur district magistrate has ordered for a complaint to be filed against Vishwakarma. However, must talk about necessary reforms in the Indian education system only when such chilling incidences surface?
India’s education system is famously rife with loopholes and in need of a serious overhaul. There are glaring question marks on the manner of learning, evaluation, judgment and training it currently offers. What often goes missed on the checklist is interpersonal relations in the classroom, which is more than just a place of theoretical learning.
Do barbaric and archaic “punishments” teachers achieve anything more than terrorising and scarring children for a lifetime with horrid memories of their school days? Is this the only way of supervising behaviour in so-called “naughty” children? Is this what needs first-response emergency attention before we can even think of reforming the education part of the system?
Principal Dangles Student Off First Floor: What Are We Doing For Change?
For most children, schools are the first exhibits of exposure to reality (to a certain degree). They are foundations that give shape to value systems that we carry forth into adulthood and the big, bad, real world out there. At school, a child explores – everything, from themselves to the kind of beliefs they want to imbibe.
Should corporal punishment at school have space in an environment tasked to nurture children? Indian law, under Section 17 of the Right to Education Act (2009), states that corporal punishment against a child is a punishable offence with upto five years of imprisonment and a fine of upto five lakh rupees.
Simultaneously, there is general consensus among psychologists and other experts over the long-term ineffectiveness of physical punishment in children. For instance, this popular research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2012, based on data from 20 years, strongly argues that “physical punishment is a risk factor for child aggression and antisocial behaviour.”
Clearly, physical punishments, like dangling children off roofs, hold neither merit nor humanity. Why then are they still around?
#Mirzapur (UP): In a shocking incident, the principal of a private school dangled a child upside down from the first floor of the school building as a punishment of sorts.
The photograph of the boy dangling down and scores of children looking on, has gone viral on social media. pic.twitter.com/PdPXlXYQz5
— IANS Tweets (@ians_india) October 29, 2021
‘Spare the rod and spoil the child,’ the old saying goes. And on a healthy diet of the occasional slap justified by that saying, a lot of us millennials have been brought up. Back in the day, without social media and access to reams of debates about ethicality, that was just how it was. A slap was a (temporary) tool to keep the child in check at home. At school, a ruler was the trusty associate of a rough teacher. No child enjoys such treatment, of course, because it is nothing to be enjoyed. Some rebelled against it, some took it with a pinch of salt, some held resentment.
Thankfully, with the availability of greater information around sensitive parenting and schooling, new generations of adults find the idea of physically punishing a child unfathomable. While that is empowering, it is agitating to know that despite legal frameworks in place, violence against children continues in schools, institutions meant to preserve childhood.
Views expressed are the author’s own.