The recent triple suicide case of the three Std IX students whose bodies were fished out of a stream in Virar has once again shed light on the often ignored problem of corporal punishment. The authorities are not only struggling to implement stringent rules to curb the offence, but also seem to be turning a blind eye to the number of cases cropping up across the country.

Recently, a special educator was caught beating up a student in a special school in the city, which caused a huge uproar against the treatment meted out at children with special needs. Similarly, a home tutor’s act of kicking and punching a three-year-old in his own house was caught on camera, leading to the teacher’s arrest. While arrests are being made in such cases, which are reported, what about cases that still go unreported, with children left to suffer silently? What about the merciless case studies or corporal punishment that have been reported and ended with the victim taking his/her own life?

In the Virar case, parents of the three students stated that a teacher beat up their sons with belts and shoes in the classroom for scoring low marks in a subject, which drove the boys to take the final plunge. While this case has attracted public interest on the issue, it is sad that it took the life of young children for the government to realise the seriousness of the problem. The focus needs to shift to imbibing sensitivity amongst teachers.

Teachers/special educators need to understand the child and act as a facilitator, not a dictator. Schools have often ignored children with special needs, but it’s now time to implement inclusive education in its true sense. Slow learners or children with special needs need to be counselled to understand their weaknesses and play up on their strengths. We also need monitoring bodies to keep a tab on schools.

The untimely death of these boys is tragic, but the injustice meted out to them and their families will be compounded if the problem of corporal punishment is not uprooted from its very origin the schools.