“Our parents and teachers used to beat us when we were kids for not doing our homework and for being unruly.”

Almost all kids have heard their parents say this at some point. A few years ago, numerous people engaged in this common behavior. Physical punishment was commonly used to discipline children who disobeyed parental and instructional instructions. Some people believe that physically abusing children is a good way to discipline them. We refer to this as physical punishment. A child is purposefully hurt by adults because to the youngster’s improper or unacceptable behavior. Adults think that by acting physically right away, children won’t repeat this behavior and that it will serve as an example for others to follow in order to prevent the incident from happening again. Youngsters are struck on their bodily parts by hands, rods, belts, scales, or any other object that could hurt them or make them fearful.


Any form of discipline that involves the use of physical force with the goal of inflicting little pain or discomfort is referred to as corporal punishment. The most common ways to administer this punishment are with the hands—spanking, slapping, punching, etc.—and/or by hitting—using a stick, belt, shoes, etc. Children may also be kicked, scratched, pinched, bit, or have their hair pulled. But these sanctions can sometimes take the shape of psychological maltreatment.

These methods are used in Indian institutions and schools to instill moral principles and social behavior in its students. In terms of culture, India has traditionally adhered to this practice. According to a Ministry of Women and Child Development report, two of every three children in India suffer from abuse.


Domestic Corporal Punishment – This is sometimes referred to as parental punishment for children. Slapping, spanking, and smacking are examples of this.

Institutional Corporal Punishment – Many children are subjected to physical punishment in institutional settings, such as schools and colleges. A teacher who is unable to maintain control over a child’s behavior will often become enraged and resort to physically punishing the child.


Article 21 of the Constitution of India

The “right to life and dignity” is envisioned in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This covers every child’s “right to education” until they turn 14 years old. The Supreme Court of India ruled in the historic 1993 case of Unni Krishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh that receiving a basic education is an implied right under Article 21 when read in conjunction with the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) on education under Article 41.

Physical punishments violate a child’s freedom and dignity since they constitute maltreatment. Due to the instilled fear that causes a youngster to skip school or drop out, physical punishment often impedes a child’s fundamental right to an education. These arguments demonstrate that the right to life is violated by corporal punishment.

Article 39 of the Constitution of India

Article 39(e) requires the State to take proactive measures to prevent abuse of vulnerable children. Furthermore, Article 39(f) mandates that the State take progressive steps to guarantee that children are provided with opportunities and resources to enable them to develop in a way that is both healthy and clearly defined. It will be made sure that a person’s youth is effectively shielded from exploitation and both material and moral abandonment.

S. Jai Singh & Ors. v. State & Anr. (2021)

In this case, children were punished with a duck walk, despite research showing it can injure knee joints. The court noted that teachers must stay informed and act responsibly, as their actions impact student health. The staff’s negligence highlighted their duty to be knowledgeable. Consequently, the Bench deemed it fitting for the petitioners to provide monetary compensation to the affected families.


To change these detrimental societal norms about childrearing and punishment, norms and value programs will be implemented.
Legislation aimed at raising awareness will be implemented to guarantee that children have the same level of protection against assault as adults. It is imperative to modify perspectives regarding non-aggressive child upbringing, and parents ought to acknowledge their obligations.
Sessions aimed at providing information and developing skills should be conducted to help parents develop a caring and nonviolent disposition.


The legal validity of corporal punishment hinges on its alignment with children’s rights and well-being. Many jurisdictions have banned or strictly regulated corporal punishment in schools, recognizing it as detrimental to physical and mental health. International bodies like the UN advocate for its abolition, emphasizing positive discipline methods. Courts have increasingly ruled against such practices, highlighting the duty of educators to prioritize students’ safety and development. Therefore, corporal punishment is generally viewed as legally and ethically indefensible, pushing for educational environments that foster respect and positive reinforcement rather than fear and physical punishment.

Contributed by – Ishita Saxena

(Symbiosis Law School, Noida 2023-28)

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