Parents decry corporal punishment in schools

Corporal punishment in Dubai schools is not permitted, but there are isolated cases that prove teachers or adult-in-charge sometimes lose control and fail to show restraint, a trait that is expected of them.

“My daughter told me one of the teachers in her school threw a book in the face of another child.

"She is intimidated by the teacher and I was shocked to hear that. If it had happened to my child, I would have definitely complained,” said a parent of a pupil, studying in a prestigious Indian curriculum school in the city.

She spoke to Emirates 24|7 on condition of anonymity for fear of backlash. 

Defining corporal punishment is difficult but it can include any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort.

Thus, throwing a book would tantamount to physical abuse.

“Throwing a book in the face is very much corporal punishment. It can take a child’s eye out and is something which should not be tolerated,” said an educationist.

According to Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem schools, there is no place for corporal punishment in schools.

“Any kind of physical abuse or punishment has no place in modern day schools and this is communicated clearly to staff.

"The only time teachers should resort to physical means is for safety reasons, when they have to restrain a student from potentially hurting themselves or others.

"There is zero tolerance when it comes to physical punishment in Taaleem schools. If an incident is reported, we have a comprehensive disciplinary procedure that will be set into motion and any alleged incidents investigated thoroughly by an independent body,” he told  this website.

Parents, too, believe the theory of spare the rod and spoil the child is very much outdated and they would not tolerate any kind of physical punishment inflicted on their children.

[Click here to read what UAE parents feel about spanking kids]

“Anyone hitting a child is absolutely a no-no.

"We teach our children that any form of violence is not good and what we preach at home should be strictly adhered to at school. I would not tolerate anybody beating my child and definitely not the teacher. Haven't really heard of it happening here,” said Gaurangi Pradhan, mother of two school going kids. 

“No chance of tolerating such an act. [I] would have certainly complained to the principal.

"If no action was taken by the school, would make sure my voice was heard by higher authorities. In the West, even parents are not allowed to physically punish their own kids.

I would also underline the point that if a teacher needs to hit a student, it patently shows that he/she is incompetent and not fit to be in a classroom setting,” said Mariam Ahmad, mother of a 7-year old going to a British school.

5-year-old lashed by teacher

A Quran memorization teacher used his stick to lash a five-year-old school boy, causing bruises and scars all over his back and trigger a police hunt for the fleeing man, a newspaper said on Thursday.

The boy was changing his clothes at home in the western town of Makkah when his parents noticed the lashing marks on his little body.

The boy told his father that the Islamic lessons teacher flogged him with the stick on his back during class at a Koran memorization centre in the holy city.

“The father reported the teacher to the police while the boy was taken to hospital…doctors said he needed treatment for five days,” the Arabic language daily Alriyadh said, adding that police are searching for the teacher.

Indian school not forthcoming on action over teacher who paraded student as ‘useless’

The CEO of the outstanding Indian High School, which was in the spotlight last week over a teacher's decision to punish a seventh grader by making him parade with a ‘useless boy of 7W’ badge for being undisciplined, was reluctant to divulge if any disciplinary action was taken following their probe into the matter.

“If you keep coming back to me after 5 days, or 8 days, I will not be able to do my work,” said Ashok Kumar. “Don’t you have any other news to report on?”But when Emirates 24|7 insisted on the details of their action, he responded, “All I can say is that this is an isolated case and we have upped the child protection act”. He, however, refused to detail anything more.

“Both sides of the story was heard and analysed, and the right action has been taken."

Students of the school, however, were more forthcoming.“Such things have never happened to us, and definitely not in our batch,” stressed 12th grader Vivek Bhatia, adding, “We have no idea who the teacher is. I guess she’s new.”

And, even if such odd cases do emerge, students clarified that parents can escalate it to the school management. “In terms of punishment, it’s harsher for the boys than the girls. And we have counsellors, who help us out if we face any problems,” added another student Anushka Makar.“If you do something naughty, we are asked to stand outside the class, or worse, our parents will be informed,” stated Priyanka Rodricks, a Grade 12 student of the same school.The group was obviously saddened by the way their school has been highlighted. “We’ve been in the school for so long, we feel bad to see our school being projected like this,” said Vivek.

Dr Naresh Kumar Dhar, Psychiatrist of Jumeriah Prime Medical Centre, strongly criticised such penalties, stressing that they can negatively impact a child’s confidence. “Depending on a child’s personality, it can have mild or extreme reactions. Sometimes it can be harmful if the self-ego is high.”

According to him, disciplining a child should be accomplished without singling out the child and parading him with such demeaning messages. “Schools can call them individually and explain the implications of bad behaviour or carry out group activities,” he explained.A directive from the Ministry of Education in 1998 had banned physical punishment in state schools, stressing how every school should have a discipline policy in place that prevents teachers from indulging in such actions.Detention is never enjoyable but if administered within the boundary, without inflicting any physical or mental injury, it could help in grooming children.Many UAE students were united in their stand that school punishments were closely monitored and didn’t harm them.

“Trust me, teachers are not even allowed to touch us. And if we don’t do our homework, they just tell us or inform our parents. And in rare cases, we can go to the student counsellor,” said Rishika Rai, a Grade 12 student of Our Own English High School Sharjah.Reza Zelbenrust, Grade 10 of Greenfield Community School, Dubai, seconded that stand, with, “The schools really exaggerate on the no-touch policy. No teacher is allowed to touch any of the students.”

His friends Farah Alhalbouni of Grade 11 and Rula Alhalbouni of Grade 9 added that detention meant sitting in a room, or at the worst, clearing trash from the field.“If we do something wrong, we are just asked to stand outside the class,” reported Mohammad Parker, Grade 12 student of Our Own English High School Dubai.

[Picture Courtesy: Shutterstock]

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