School violence costs India annually US 7.42 billion dollars, according to a research report titled "The Economic Impact of School Violence" by United Kingdom headquartered Plan International and Overseas Development Institute (ODI).
Eminent Indo-American statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was a wake-up call for India to urgently look into this grave situation, which could be devastating for affected children also besides economic and social impact and causing a considerable drain on public purse.
Economic and social cost of school violence in India is much higher than countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jordan, Nicaragua, and Peru; according to this report.
In India, the report says, 69 percent of children said they had been physically abused in different settings, including schools, but most said they had not reported it to anyone. In many cases, it is ignored or even condoned.
Plan/ODI report adds that corporal punishment in schools in India has recently been made illegal, but it is used widely by teachers. In one survey, 65 percent of children reported having been beaten. In some states, the figure was more than 90 percent. Punishments range from hitting with hands or sticks to making children stand in various positions for long periods and tying them to chairs. These severe punishments cause many children to abandon school-because they are afraid of their teachers, because of their injuries and because of the impact the violence has on their learning.
Zed, who is Chairperson of Indo-American Leadership Confederation, further says that bullying, corporal punishment and sexual violence is traumatizing and humiliating for children; it violates rights of children; it sustains violence; and it creates fear of schools and teachers and fellow students. Laws protecting children need to be enforced. India needs to have a strong political will and commitment to eradicate violence in schools.
Rajan Zed pointed out that India should retrain its teachers to choose disciplining methods other than corporal punishment; set up codes of conduct in schools; stress on gender equality; enforce the law banning corporal punishment; develop a children friendly reporting procedure; and pour more investments in this area.
Plan/ODI report argues that no country is immune from school violence. According to the UN's study on violence against children, 20-65 percent of all schoolchildren report being verbally or physically bullied. Some 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experience forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence during 2002. Corporal punishment in schools is legal in 88 countries, including France and a number of states in USA. Even in those, where it is banned, it is often seen as an acceptable form of discipline. In a number of countries, sexual violence against girls and women is the more common than expected. And schoolchildren bully their more vulnerable peers, such as those with disabilities, different sexualities and different ethnic backgrounds.
This report indicates that in Egypt, 80 percent of boys and 67 percent of girls have suffered corporal punishment, even resulting in a beating death. In a study conducted by students in Sierra Leone, 59 percent of girls had been sexually abused, where girls are sometimes abused in exchange for grades or school fees. In Ecuador, 37 per cent of adolescent girls, who were the victims of sexual violence, named teachers as perpetrators. Bullying is common in schools across the world-and is only illegal in five. In Swaziland, 17.4 percent of 13-17-year-old girls have been taken out of school because of pregnancy.
Founded in 1937, Plan, whose tagline is "Promoting child rights to end child poverty", claims to be one of the oldest and largest children's development organizations in the world, with projects in 48 developing countries and annually works with more than 3,500,000 families and their communities. Headquartered in Surrey; Paul Arlman is the Chair of its International Board of Directors, Nigel Chapman is the Chief Executive Officer, while Bhagyashri Dengle is its National Director for India. aunched in 1960, ODI claims to be Britain's leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues. Headquartered in London, its Council is chaired by Lord Adair Turner, while Alison Evans is the Director.