The Constitution of India guarantees several rights to children and enables the State to make provisions to ensure that the tender age of children is not abused. Child Abuse was and continues to be, one of the most heinous crimes designed and perpetuated by human beings against some of the most vulnerable and defenseless sections of the community. Globally, it has been recognized and seen as a particularly burdensome challenge. According to the World Health Organization, “Child maltreatment, sometimes referred to as child abuse and neglect, includes all forms of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation that results in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, development or dignity. Within this broad definition, five subtypes can be distinguished – physical abuse; sexual abuse; neglect and negligent treatment; emotional abuse; and exploitation”.
Types Of Abuse
Physical Abuse: Includes hitting, kicking, punching, biting, burning, shaking, drowning, smothering and giving drugs or alcohol (includes corporal punishment)
- Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, fractures, welts, burns or cuts
- Depression and anxiety and/or aggression and violence.
- Problems with relationships and socializing / distant and withdrawn.
- Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as a coat on warm days.
- Running away
- Sleeps in Class /appears drowsy
Emotional Abuse: Includes threats, humiliation, sarcasm, degrading punishments, undermining confidence
- Possible delayed physical, emotional and mental development.
- Being unable to play or socialize well with others
- Fearful of making mistakes
- Sudden speech disorders or neurotic behaviour such as rocking
- Low self-esteem / confidence
- Crying inconsolably
Sexual Abuse: Includes kissing, touching genitals or breasts, vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex, and encouraging to look at pornography, trading grades for sexual favors.
- Aggressive behaviour, risk taking and missing school or running away.
- Sleep problems and bed-wetting or soiling.
- Negative thoughts / not looking after themselves / low self esteem
- Displaying sexually inappropriate behaviour
- Anal or vaginal soreness
- Unexplained bleeding from private parts.
Substance Abuse : Includes intake of Psychoactive /alcoholic /narcotic substance /tabacco or engage in buying or selling of any above mentioned substance.
- Aggressive bahaviour, risk taking, missing school.
- Low self-steem/ confidence
- Unable to socialize well with others
- Day dreaming ,lethargic
Neglect: Includes lack of food, medical attention, supervision, clothing etc.
- Delayed development
- Poor hygiene, unwashed clothes or inadequate clothes
- Untreated medical conditions
- Being hungry or tired all the time
- Missing school or difficulties with school work
- Poor self esteem
- Withdrawn and difficulty making friends and/or anti-social behavior
A child needs protection from people with unhealthy attitude present in the School campus. These include other School students, administrators, teachers and rest of the School staff (i.e., cleaning agency workers, office staff, security workers, etc). Child protection can be ensured through appropriate action against bullying; corporal punishment; any sort of physical, verbal or sexual abuse and indiscipline, violence or substance abuse. Therefore, Child protection policy includes sub-policies namely-
- Anti Corporal Punishment Policy
- Anti Bullying Policy
- School Discipline and Substance Abuse Policy
The Right of children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE, 2009), clearly states that no child shall be subject to “physical punishment or mental harassment” in schools. Those officials that contravene this provision shall be liable for disciplinary action under service rules applicable to them.
It is not easy to define corporal punishment as it involves humiliation and insult which a child feels as a subject. Considering the millions of ways in which punishment is perpetrated on children in contemporary times, it is impossible to exhaust all the forms of insinuations and violence. However, following behaviour has been categorically put under Anti corporal policy of the school.
Physical punishment is understood as any action that causes pain, hurt/injury and discomfort to a child, however light. Examples of physical punishment include but are not restricted to the following:
- Causing physical harm to children by hitting, kicking, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling the hair, boxing ears, smacking, slapping, and spanking or with any implement (cane, stick, shoe, chalk, dusters, belt, whip, giving electric shock etc.)
- Making children assume an uncomfortable position (standing on bench, standing against the wall in a chair-like position, standing with schoolbag on head, holding ears through legs, kneeling etc.)
- Forced ingestion of anything (for example: washing soap, mud, chalk, hot spices etc.)
- Detention in the classroom, library, toilet or any closed space in the school.
Mental harassment is understood as any non-physical treatment that is detrimental to the academic and psychological well-being of a child. It includes but is not restricted to the following:
- Sarcasm that hurts or lowers the child’s dignity; Calling names and scolding using humiliating adjectives, intimidation;
- Using derogatory remarks for the child, including pinning of slogans;
- Ridiculing the child with regard to his/her background or status or parental occupation or caste;
- Ridiculing the child with regard to his/her health status or that of the family – especially HIV/AID Sand tuberculosis;
- Belittling a child in the classroom due to his/her inability to meet the teacher’s expectations of academic achievement;
- Punishing or disciplining a child, not recognizing that most children who perform poorly in academics are actually children with special needs. Such children could have conditions like learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mild developmental delay etc.
- Using punitive measures to correct a child and even labeling him/her as difficult; such as a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who may not only fare poorly in academics, but also pose a problem in management of classroom behaviors;
- ‘Shaming’ the child to motivate the child to improve his performance and
- Ridiculing a child with developmental problems such as learning difficulty or a speech disorder, such as, stammering or speech articulation disorder.
Discrimination is understood as prejudiced views and behaviour towards any child because of her/his caste/gender, occupation or region and non-payment of fees or for being a student admitted under the25% reservation to disadvantaged groups or weaker sections of society under the RTE, 2009. It can be latent; manifest; open or subtle. It includes but is not restricted to the following:
- Bringing social attitudes and prejudices of the community into the school by using belittling remarks against a specific social group or gender or ability/disability;
- Assigning different duties and seating in schools based on caste, community or gender prejudices for example, cleaning of toilets assigned by caste; task of making tea assigned by gender); admission through 25% reserved seats under the RTE; or non-payment of any prescribed fees;
- Commenting on academic ability based on caste or community prejudices and
- Denying a facility like library books or uniforms or sports facilities to a child or group of children based on caste, community, religion or gender.
Bullying is behaviour by an individual, repeated over time that intentionally hurts another individual or group. It can be in the physical, verbal, emotional or cyber domain. It is any act or gesture (written, verbal, graphic, or physical) that is reasonably perceived as being dehumanizing, intimidating, hostile, humiliating and threatening and likely to evoke fear of physical harm or emotional distress.
The following types of bullying behaviour are included in this non-exhaustive definition
- Deliberate exclusion, malicious gossip and other forms of relational bullying,
- Identity-based bullying such as homophobic bullying, racist bullying,
- Bullying of those with disabilities or special educational needs.
- Hurtful public message, image or statement on a social network site or other public forum
- Where that message, image or statement can be viewed and/or repeated by other people will be regarded as bullying
Bullying undermines and dilutes the quality of education. Research shows that bullying can have short and long-term effects on the physical and mental well-being of pupils, on engagement with school, on self-confidence and on the ability to pursue ambitions and interests. Therefore, the policy aims to create an environment where students can grow and flourish without fear.
An anti-bullying policy should always endeavor to complement a school’s policy on behavior and discipline. There is also a need to regularly reinforce and review the policy so that newcomers to the school understand the school’s stance on bullying and so that existing pupils and parents are reminded that bullying, in whatever form, will never be tolerated.
School discipline is the system of rules, punishments and behavioural strategies appropriate to the regulation of children and the maintenance of order in schools. Its aim is to control the students’ actions and behaviour. An obedient student is in compliance with the school rules and codes of conduct. These rules may, for example, define the expected standards of clothing, timekeeping, social behaviour and work ethic. The term discipline is also applied to the intervention that is the consequence of breaking the rules. The aim of discipline is to set limits restricting certain behaviours seen as harmful for the child or others around him.
In general, a system of school discipline can be called effective if it clearly communicates to both students and staff what are acceptable and unacceptable boundaries of behavior and what are the consequences of misbehavior will be.
Objectives of A Discipline Policy/Plan
- To enable students to manage and control their behavior.
- To enable the students follow rules, respect them and participate positively in learning process.
- To eliminate physical and psychological violence from school.
- To ensure a general wellbeing of students and staff in school.
The aforementioned objectives can be achieved through the following steps-
- A firm consistent discipline plan.
- Entire school (i.e., all heads, teachers, students and parents) is aware of the plan and follows consistently.
- The plan is implemented strictly by VP/HMs and counselor (when required for referral).
- Have a few pages in diary for indisciplinary notes from teacher (so that each parent can ensure about their child’s behaviour by going through those pages).
- Enhance parent participation by
- Having regular age appropriate workshops (e.g., Mont-I, class I, VI, IX and XI)
- Valuing parent participation( e.g. dads vs. lads matches)
- Appropriate and respectful behavior is modeled by teachers and administrators.
- Appropriate behavior in students is appreciated and encouraged through formal and informal means.
It is vital that the behavior policy is clear, that it is well understood by staff, parents and pupils, and that it is consistently applied.