Awaiting report, says NCPA
The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) is collecting evidence with regard to the complaint made about corporal punishment at Trinity College. It is awaiting the report from the Kandy Judicial Medical Officer who examined the child after the NCPA advised the parents to get him examined, The Sunday Times learns from the NCPA.

“When we get reports about a problem in a school we have to get evidence and talk to the child or children concerned. Sometimes this is easy and at other times it is difficult,” explained Dr. Hiranthi Wijemanne head of the NCPA detailing the procedure followed.

Pointing out that sometimes when the NCPA writes to the schools concerned, the Principals drag their feet, she stressed, “We expect them to honour the mandate given to us and the Convention on the Rights of the Child which Sri Lanka has ratified.” At the same time, some schools respond very well, according to her. “Even though there may not be a complaint, if they find a problem, they contact us and get our support in sorting it out,” she said citing the example of a well-known Anglican boys’ school in Colombo.

Specifically with regard to corporal punishment, when asked how any teacher could manage 40-45 boisterous and mischievous boys in a class without physical punishment, Dr. Wijemanne spelled out other ways in which children can be chastised sans physical and mental abuse. “Sometimes teachers call children names like gona and booruwa, forgetting the fact that all children are not alike. Some are smart, others not so smart. This name-calling is mental abuse and like any other form of abuse has a long-term impact on the child.”

Schools have to be child friendly, children must want to go to school and they must be happy in school. The school environment must be free of violence. Otherwise it will be very difficult for children to imbibe knowledge, she said, adding that as punishment children can be deprived of something they like very much. “They should first be told what the mistake is and given time to remedy it. There are many alternative forms of punishment such as not allowing the child to go out to play for a while,” she said.

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