South Asia

Corporal punishment 'widespread' in Indian schools

Schoolchildren
Image caption Punishments included hitting pupils with sticks and tying them to chairs

Corporal punishment is still widespread in India's schools, despite the fact it is illegal, according to a report.

More than 65% of children on average said they had received corporal punishment, according to children's organisation Plan International.

Its report found that the majority of these children attended state schools.

Out of the 13 countries which were the subjects of the research, India was ranked third in terms of the estimated economic cost of corporal punishment.

Stick beatings

The study, Prevention Pays, found discrimination by caste and gender was the major cause of violence against children in India.

Plan said many children abandoned school because of the punishments, which included hitting pupils with hands or sticks, making them stand in various positions for long periods and tying them to chairs.

Plan's report is taken from research carried out by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a UK think tank.

The ODI based its research on several sources, including Indian government data about child abuse in the country.

Delhi's Ministry of Women and Child Development interviewed more than 3,000 school children in 2007 to find out the extent of corporal punishment.

In total, nearly 12,500 children aged between five and 18 years old, including many who did not attend school, from 13 states took part in the research; more than half of them said they had faced sexual abuse.

The study found that more boy students (54%) suffered corporal punishment than girls (45%).

Students in the states of Assam, Mizoram and Uttar Pradesh reported the highest rates of corporal punishment, while Rajasthan and Goa had the lowest.

Plan said the main causes of violence against young Indians, including in schools, was discrimination on the basis of caste and gender; "societal acceptance of violence as a form of discipline"; and a general lack of awareness about children's rights.

The study found there were on average at least five beatings of students per day in the schools included in the survey.

Teachers tended to justify their actions by saying they were overburdened with too many pupils.

The study found that even many students believed corporal punishment was sometimes necessary.

Plan reckons anything between $1.4bn and $7.4bn was being lost every year in India in social benefits because of school violence.

The cost is based on estimates of how the larger economy is affected by the impact of corporal punishment on pupils' attendance and academic performance.

Only the US and Brazil suffered a greater economic cost because of corporal punishment, according to the research.

Plan said it had introduced a campaign to raise awareness about the impact of violence on children, Learn Without Fear, in seven Indian states.

The other 10 countries involved in Plan's study were Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Jordan and Egypt.

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