New Delhi: Schools should constitute special monitoring cells to take prompt action in cases of physical punishment or harassment of children, according to guidelines unveiled by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Monday to eliminate corporal punishment.
The guidelines suggest that Corporal Punishment Monitoring Cells (CPMCs) should hear grievances related to corporal punishment, child sexual abuse, mental harassment and discrimination without any delay and should forward recommendations to district level authorities within 48 hours of the occurrence.
The NCPCR's "Guidelines for eliminating corporal punishment in schools" also suggest a number of measures for affirmative action in schools for positive engagement with children.
They suggest that school teachers should provide a written undertaking stating that they would not engage in any action that could be construed as amounting to physical punishment, mental harassment or discrimination.
Another novel idea suggested by NCPCR is for schools to have annual social audits of physical punishment, harassment and discrimination. The guidelines suggest that results of the audit should be made public before start of every new academic year.
The guidelines advocate that an environment free of corporal punishment should be stipulated as one of the conditions for giving recognition to schools by the state governments.
All school children should be informed through campaigns and publicity drives that they have a right to speak against physical punishments, mental harassment and discrimination.
Officials said that NCPCR has constituted comprehensive Guidelines following a detailed study which was conducted in 2009-10 involving 6,632 children across seven states.
The study had found that out of the 6, 632 children, 6,623 children had reported experiencing some kind of punishment. As many as 81.2 per cent children had been subject to outward rejection by being told that they were not capable of learning or some other kind of verbal punishment.
Of all the interviewed children, 75 per cent reported that they had been hit by a cane while 69 per cent had been slapped on the cheeks. The cruel practice of giving electric shocks was also reported by 0.4 per cent of the interviewed children.
Based on the findings of the report the NCPCR experts have come out with guidelines which stress on "positive engagement" with children.
The guidelines advise teachers to pay positive attention to children and appreciate good efforts while ignoring minor lapses. The NCPCR also suggest that workshops should also be held so that teachers can also learn from each others' experience.
They also lay down that Life skills education should be made a part of school curriculum and should address issues of self esteem, aggression, drug abuse, decision making, coping with stress and others.
"Appropriately implemented life skills education should lead to improvements that have long term effects on the behaviour of children," the NCPCR guidelines state.
The NCPCR has demanded that all staff associated with schools should be subjected to these guidelines and ensure that all children enjoy their rights as per the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
Speaking on the occasion Minister of State for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath said that "these guidelines will serve as an important tool for sensitisation and creating awareness on the subject amongst various stakeholders."
While commending NCPCR for the guidelines, Tirath said that there was a need to set up State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) in all states.
"I have been writing, and urging all Chief Ministers and UT Administrators to set up the SCPCR, but to date, only thirteen have done so," Tirath said.
The guidelines also suggest that school authorities should hold meetings with parent-teacher bodies on the guidelines and decide which procedures they should adopt to protect children and their rights in schools.
Authorities including district administration and education boards should take prompt note of incidents related to corporal punishment and get them inquired.
NCPCR chairperson Shantha Sinha said that the "Commission has brought together some of the best minds and experts to draft its guidelines on Corporal punishment."