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Children with special needs are equally entitled to an exciting and brilliant future. | The best gift you can give a child with special needs is your friendship. To include them, play with them and believe in them.

Open Letters – Open Letter 2

Dear Parent/Caregivers/Teachers,

It is true that parents, teachers and caregivers love children and are their well-wishers, yet they lean towards the idea of sparing the rod and spoiling the child. Corporal punishment (CP) is deep-rooted in the history of civilisations. The pretext of CP, whether at home, school or in the community, is to discipline a child, act as a corrective measure to improve their efficiency or teach them a moral lesson.

A wide range of punishments fall under CP: hitting with a cane or ruler, slapping, twisting ears, making them stand on desks with hands raised high, and more. Other forms of physical distress, emotional battering and destruction of a child’s self-esteem are also part of CP.

In schools, things like scoring poor marks, coming late, not doing homework, and not wearing the proper school uniform, among other things, give teachers an excuse to pick up the rod.

Unfortunately, once the school becomes an alma mater, to most people, the CP received seems like medals of bravery to boast about proudly. Their arguments for accepting the CP are that sometimes one has to be cruel to be kind; we were beaten as children, and we are better adults today; or we do take bitter medicine to get cured in the long run, don’t we? Once adults begin to see CP not as inhuman but as a way of controlling and demonstrating authority, they automatically start to justify crimes like ragging and domestic violence.

Moreover, perpetrators sometimes take the route of CP to abuse children sexually. A child conditioned to accept CP will find it very difficult to challenge or report the perpetrator. Breaking the cycle is the way forward.

When you beat us, you show us that it is all right to beat others. When you beat us to teach us a lesson, you tell us that we are failures and do not deserve your respect. So the next time you are about to hit us, think about this – will your legacy to your offspring and community be one of hate or one of love and non-violence?

The three musketeers and their classmates

The open letter is based on a chapter from “My Eighth CACA Safety Workbook” for children.

Various laws, verdicts, guidelines, and advisories in India prohibit CP. The Juvenile Justice Act (JJA) – 2015 prescribes punishment for cruelty to a child. “Whenever a child is assaulted, abused, exposed or neglected in a manner to cause physical or mental suffering by any person employed by or managing an organisation, which is entrusted with the care and protection of the child, the punishment would be rigorous imprisonment up to five years and fine up to rupees five lacks. Furthermore, on account of the cruelty described above, if the child is physically incapacitated, develops a mental illness, is rendered mentally unfit to perform regular tasks, or has a risk to life or limb, imprisonment may extend up to ten years.

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