The principal has been called out for humiliating the young students and asking them to remove their clothes for being late to school.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 3, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger Warning: This article contains details of child abuse that may be distressing to readers.
Adults need to be held accountable when it comes to using abusive methods of discipline, whether it's physical, psychological or emotional. A group of young boys between the ages of 9 and 10 was forced to strip naked as punishment for running late to school. The distressing incident took place in a private school in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, called Chaitanya Bharathi School. Instead of warning the young children, the boys in grades 3 and 4, were made to strip off all their clothes and stand naked not just under the blazing sun but also in full view of teachers and other students. The six boys had their pants down to their ankles and their arms up in the air, reports The News Minute.
Andhra Pradesh- Chittoor DEO tells me that investigation is underway on the incident where students were punished and made to stand naked in Chaithanya Bharathi School, Punganur. DEO says recognition of school for 2019-2020 could be withdrawn. #AndhraPradesh @CRYINDIA #POCSO pic.twitter.com/BRDgQL1qWw— Rishika Sadam (@RishikaSadam) December 27, 2018
Parents and activists have slammed the principal, Maharaja Naidu, who also owns the school. A video of the children's punishment came to the attention of child rights activists who have since condemned the act. Many parents staged protests the next day and a few of them even spoke out about their children being punished for not finishing their homework. Activists claim that authorities have been trying to cover up the issue and sweep it under the rug. In fact, Maharaja Naidu absconded soon after this issue came to light. Many were shocked as to how an educator could think of inflicting shame and pain upon impressionable young children.
OMG...what is wrong with people! That school should be closed! No way to treat children.— Cindy Wilson (@LouWho2) January 30, 2019
Talking to TNM, president of Hyderabad-based child rights organization Balala Hakula Sangham, Achyuta Rao alleged that not just the principal, but the Mandal Educational Officer (MEO) is also working with the school authorities to hush up the atrocities the children were subjected to. Rao explained, "Our organization had a word with the MEO. Instead of immediately canceling the recognition of the school, the MEO Leela Rani is trying to cover up the issue and has said that she will be taking up the matter with the higher authorities." Rao continued, "Is that how an issue of such serious nature has to be dealt with? The principal of the school should be booked under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act as it’s a clear case of exploiting the children’s modesty." He also added, "The children should also be given psychological counseling in the aftermath of such a traumatic experience."
How do you determine the difference between punishment and abuse? According to Hamilton County Job and Family Services, discipine is excessive if the child is physically injured where they need medical attention. It can also include bruising, broken skin and swelling. Another thing to note is if the punishment is meant to instill fear rather than to educate the child. Sometimes the action can be aggressive on the part of the caretaker, whether a parent, guardian or school official, where they lose control of their own emotions and take it out on the child. At other times the action results from a caretaker’s unreasonable demands or expectations for the child and it can be inappropriate, especially when considering the child’s age.
If you know of any children who are being subjected to abuse, please contact The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 422-4453.