The Supreme Court in a landmark decision today declared that corporal punishment of children by schools was unlawful and violated the fundamental rights of a child.
By reference to the Penal Code, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the evolution of Government policy over time, the Supreme Court declared that the slapping of a 15 year old child by a school teacher in Matara amounted to unlawful violence against a child and a violation of the Constitutional rights of a child.
The Court accepted that corporal punishment can be both physical and mental. Declaring both physical and mental abuse of children in school as unlawful.
In the judgment, the Court emphasized on the need to change our attitude towards corporal punishment and that society needs to change its thinking that hitting children makes them better. The Court also referred to ancient laws by Sri Lankan kings that prohibited violence against adults and children as a method of instilling discipline. Violence to teach discipline was a colonial concept, the Court declared.
Both the teacher of the School in Matara and the Government has been ordered to pay a total of Rs650,000 as compensation to the child for slapping him and the injuries it caused.
Lawyer Thishya Weragoda, who represented the child and his parents in the case welcomed the judgment. “It is time for us to change this.” He said. “We should be the last generation who thinks that being violent with our children will create a better and more peaceful society. This judgement should go a long way in changing that mindset.”