Are Humiliating Punishments That Break The Self-Esteem Of Kids, Needed In Schools?

Posted: September 14, 2019

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Teachers shape our lives in school and are the people who make us who we are. But what happens when a teacher takes pleasure in punishments and humiliation of the students?

“Persons of high self-esteem are not driven to make themselves superior to others; they do not seek to prove their value by measuring themselves against a comparative standard. Their joy is being who they are, not being better than someone else” – Nathaniel Branden

“Tell me which is that particular month which varies in days?” Mrs Chaudhari thundered.

Trembling, with tears in her eyes little Meghna couldn’t answer.

“Idiot! You have no brains, you know mugging that’s all. Now you are punished, kneel down” Mrs Chaudhari only got louder as she slapped the child.

With the entire class laughing, an embarrassed Meghna kneeled and tried to recall the answer.

No she couldn’t. She has forgotten the names of the months. Geography was something she dreaded. All she knew was that she was an idiot.

“You see, I do not tolerate muggers, I am very strict. And chapters two, three, four, five, six and seven are your homework. Today is Monday and all of you should be fully prepared by Friday.

“I also know that in a class of 40, only Sayan, Rahul, Nidhi and Pratik can do it. I have no hopes from others. And you Meghna, if you don’t perform on Friday I will make you kneel down on the ground for the entire school to see you,” were the final words Mrs Chaudhari uttered before leaving the class.

It’s a mandate. I need to mention the standard. The students were from standard eight and it was the first period of the first day of the week Monday.

I have questions about Mrs. Chaudhari!

I raise some questions here.

Mrs Chaudhari had given homework but had she taken the classwork properly?

Did she explain the chapters she dumped on those students?

Or is it taken for granted that the child will finish them at home with the parents doing their homework?

What about the punishment?

And Meghna? What about the humiliation?

Will it make her or break her?

Is it necessary to humiliate children?

There is every right for a teacher to scold or punish the child since they are the ones the children spend the maximum time and look at as mentors. It is equally important for the teacher to have knowledge on how to groom a child and develop the self-esteem.

Mrs Chaudhari was doing exactly opposite. She seemed quite satiated that she is a terror to those petrified children and a true victor to those kids.

Madam Chaudhari you should have been shown the door. Well, in Meghna’s case she had to tolerate Mrs Chaudhari till standard ten.

Ultimately Mrs Chaudhari left the school after couple of years with the children breathing a sigh of relief. All they had of Mrs Chaudhari were those bitter memories and the squalid adjectives she used on them.

One aspect changed for sure they started loving Geography.

Building self-esteem in children

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,”American abolitionist Frederick Douglass words of discernment seem blatantly palpable.

However, consensus on how to build a child with strong self esteem is not easy to come by. There is almost always a new book being published every day with new rules of teaching promising exceptionally good results.

We all know how the content of those books are. Sometimes the results of our preaching from them can prove otherwise. Rather than rationalising the teaching process, these books purely focus to its literature making a child and teacher’s task more difficult.

Is punishment really important?

Now punishment. It really doesn’t work for several reasons with physical punishment in particular. Physical punishment makes the child hate the teacher, her/himself and others.

It makes the child ponder that there must be something dreadfully wrong with him/her to be treated so badly. And it is simple logic that if children think they are ‘bad,’ then they will act ‘bad.’

How punishments affect children

The child who has been handed rudely has no reason to be good. Sometimes that child may be good enough just to keep from being punished. They may not at all learn to be good as they think it is the right thing to do.

Children who have been thrashed feel that this is how they pay for their misbehaviour and are at liberty to misbehave again. In other words, smacking frees the child from sentiments of penitence which are compulsory to prevent future misconduct.

Don’t compare children, please?

Please avoid comparisons. Each child is unique, the only parameter the child can compare with is with their own selves.

Didn’t Mrs. Chaudhari know it? Did the school not take a proper interview prior to appointing Mrs Chaudhari? She broke Meghna’s self-esteem. Meghna grew up an insecure adult in deep need of validation through others’ opinion.

In contradistinction, people with high self-esteem are taut enough in their self awareness. They don’t need to compare themselves with others or inflate their abilities: they are good enough. And they know this is how they just need to be exactly are.

Schools need counsellors for children

Dear schools please rope in proper counsellors and teachers.

While there is no harm in scolding a child, but do it in the proper way. Do not rob their childhood so that they grow up an insecure, timid individuals.

They should learn to love themselves and not to see themselves loved through validation of others.

Note: Based on a true story. Names changed to protect identity.

A different version was first published here.

Picture credits: Pexels

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Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of

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