Disciplining children the correct way | Daily News

Disciplining children the correct way

Children are precious. Society protects them. It is the nature of all human beings. But with the social change taking place in the world and here in Sri Lanka things have been changing rapidly in the last few decades. But as human beings we cannot ignore the safety of children. We are talking about several incidents reported in the past few months in connection with child abuse where school teachers and school Principals were responsible.

According to the Circulars issued by the Education Ministry of Sri Lanka a few decades ago, Corporal Punishment is totally prohibited. According to the same Circulars, there are many other methods that can be used to punish schoolchildren for serious offences. They vary from the banning of attending school for a certain period and sacking from school etc. But school Principals and teachers cannot beat or assault children.

Prohibiting Corporal Punishment does not mean that school teachers and school Principals can discipline schoolchildren by using some other means such as sticks and their hands etc. They cannot hit schoolchildren. That is it. But it seems the majority of school Principals and teachers here in Sri Lanka do not know the existing rules and regulations and they have not been educated on the rules and regulations in the Education Sector. Maybe this is the reason for them to discipline schoolchildren in this manner.

In the past few decades, before the prohibition of Corporal Punishment, almost all school Principals and teachers disciplined children because they wanted to correct them and prevent them from resorting to various offences that could harm their future, especially their character. But nowadays it does not happen. School Principals and teachers resort to hitting children in order to release their anger, due to mental pressure or due to various other reasons. The main reason is the mental pressure they face due to various reasons in their private lives. Teaching is not a service any more. It has become another mode of employment. But still there are some school teachers who bring food from their homes and feed poor schoolchildren.

On the other hand, the present day schoolchildren are not of the same ilk as the schoolchildren of yore. Present day schoolchildren are more like adults when it comes to their behaviour patterns. But, that doesn’t mean that they can be disciplined by being hit, slapped or brutally assaulted.

Now we hear and watch about child abuse incidents on a weekly basis. We just forget the previous incident when we hear about the latest incident. In the recent past schoolchildren were subjected to sexual abuse on several occasions by the school authorities and were subject to beatings with sticks, hands etc, sustaining head injuries etc.

The latest report of beating of a student is the case where a child sustained injuries in the ear after being slapped by a Buddhism teacher.

It was reported that another student sustained injuries to the head after being assaulted by the dancing teacher.

The reasons for the beatings were for failure to bring the Buddhism textbook to class and the singing of the National Anthem aloud. The incident reported before this was hitting and electrifying Grade Five schoolchildren by the school Principal and the Police. At the same time another male school teacher from another school severely beat a female student in Grade Five injuring her for not attending his tuition class. The Police were never involved in school affairs a few decades ago. There was discipline then.

There is no point in criticising the conduct of teachers and Principals without pointing out practical and concrete solutions to solve the issue without spending even a cent. It is up to the education authorities to implement the solution/solutions. The first and foremost part of the solution is educating all existing school teachers and Principals on the rules, regulations and especially the Code of Conduct.

The second part of the solution is including the same in a few days or a week long formal training given to teachers who join the service in future. This Code of Conduct should include what they can do and what they cannot do, what they can wear, what they cannot wear, how they should wear the Saree, etc.

New Circulars with tougher punishments should be issued by the education authorities mentioning each and every act of violation of those rules and regulations. Corporal Punishment is physical punishment, such as caning or flogging. But it does not cover all the other unacceptable punishments given by school teachers and Principals to schoolchildren at present.

A large number of acts that cannot be accepted are taking place at State schools at present and it is not possible to mention all those here. One example can be given. School teachers ‘educate’ schoolchildren through ‘WhatsApp’ on their trade union actions and justify them. This is irrelevant and not acceptable. Some other teachers do not have any understanding on what should be and what should not be posted on schoolchildren's WhatsApp groups.

Maybe this is because there are hundreds of different categories of school teachers such as graduates, who became teachers because they received social welfare assistance such as ‘Janasaviya’, who became teachers by passing some other exams such as ‘Dharmacharya’ etc. Those teachers do not have any training at all. They should be trained before one of them assaults and kills a child.



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