‘Bullying, corporal punishment concerns in Bengal schools’

Kolkata, July 30 (IANS) A new study carried out in 60 West Bengal schools has revealed that bullying, use of corporal punishment by teachers and presence of “unwelcome elements” outside girls’ schools to be major concerns in child protection issues in the state.

Sixty selected schools from six districts (Kolkata, North and South 24-Parganas, Murshidabad, West Midnapore and Alipurduar) were mapped to highlight areas of immediate concern in protection of children in difficult circumstances.

“Despite the banning of corporal punishments in schools, the study revealed that it still exists in as many as 30 percent of the schools covered. Teachers felt that without the use of this method, they were finding it difficult to control the students,” Nandini Chatterjee, secretary, City Level Programme of Action (CLPOA), told IANS on Thursday.

CLPOA conducted the study in collaboration with Association for Social and Health Advancement (ASHA) and Action Aid Association. An average of 30 to 35 students from 12 to 16 years of age participated from the districts.

Discussing the key findings, a day ahead of the release of the complete report, Chatterjee said bullying has come up as a “major child protection issue”.

“Peer violence perpetrated on younger children and girls were reflected by the children with 20 percent and 33 percent of children reporting peer-inflicted physical assault and bullying, respectively,” said Chatterjee.

“In more than 90 percent of the girls’ schools, students reported congregation of unwelcome elements at the gate of the school was a major problem during start of the classes and also when class were dismissed,” Chatterjee said.

Apart from the school children, the study team also spoke with children living under difficult circumstances which included children belonging to socially-excluded families, child labour, children in state homes meant for rehabilitation, and also with children having conduct problems and juvenile delinquents in state homes.

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