Mumbai : When nine-year-old Khushboo Vaishya came home with a bruise on her arm on Wednesday, her parents thought it was time to do something about it. This was the second time in three months their daughter had been beaten by a teacher at the Guru Nanak Higher Secondary School at GTB Nagar.
Khushboo, a Std V student, was beaten on her arm by her class teacher for being absent the previous day. The kid had participated in the Ganesh immersion the previous night and was too tired to attend school. Her teacher made her sit on the floor for four hours and beat her up even after she showed her the letter written by her father. Khusboo’s hand was swollen and she had to be given treatment at Sion Hospital.
Rajesh Vaishya, her father, approached the principal, Madhavi Naik, who asked him not to make a big issue out of it. Unsatisfied with the principal’s approach, Vaishya went to Antop Hill police station to file a complaint. He was assisted by a local voluntary group, Shiv Shakti.
He filed an LAC (Local Act Case) with the Antop Hill police against the teachers. “An LAC is just like an FIR, where local acts are applied instead of the IPC. The teachers were charged under Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice Act,” said Senior Inspector Sanjay Surve of the Antop Hill police station.
On Friday morning, the parents had a meeting with the concerned teachers, the school’s management and the principal where the two teachers, one of whom had beaten Kushboo a couple of months back, apologised to the parents and assured them that their child won’t be hurt again.
“Because she was beaten up twice, I had to file a complaint with the police. All the students’ security was at stake. But I am happy now that they have realised their mistake and taken my daughter’s responsibility,” said Vaishya.
“The teachers have given a written explanation regarding the incident and said that they didn’t do anything intentionally. It’s just that things took a turn for the worse,” said principal Naik. “The management of the school, Guru Nanak Vidyak Society will take disciplinary action against the teachers,” Naik added.
When asked if corporal punishment is the right way to discipline children, Naik said that not corporal but some corrective action is necessary while handling students. “Now-a-days students have become more sensitive and we have to measure our words before saying anything. Beating them up is too far-fetched. Previously if teachers raised their hands, parents never minded. However, the scenario is different now,” Naik said.
Dr Heenal Shah, a psychiatrist at Nair hospital feels that while physically hurting children is never an option, they definitely have become less resilient today due to changing lifestyles. “Previously when people lived in joint families or had multiple kids, arguments and fights made them toughen up at an early age. However, now couples are having only one child who is not used to being among a lot of people who might oppose him. Hence it creates friction,” said Shah.
Well-known psychiatrist Harish Shetty said that instead of resorting to physical punishment, children should be involved in community and altruistic activities. “Their behaviour should be monitored and constructive measures should be adopted to deal with them. Physical punishment is absolutely incorrect. Hitting is cheaper, but talking to a child goes deeper,” he said.
Shah also said that teachers are culturally and traditionally portrayed as someone who uses physical punishment as a disciplinary method. “They also have a lot of stress due to less salaries, travel, pressure of work. That cultural mould and the stress is reflected in such actions,” she said.
On Friday evening, Vaishya submitted an application with the Antop Hill police to withdraw his complaint. The police will accordingly submit their report with the court.