Corporal Punishment Totally Unnecessary
By Md Musa Azad
New Age, Op-Ed
Dhaka, Bangladesh, December 22, 2010
All children or born pure, it’s how we treat them or behave with them that will alter their attitude towards us. For 2011, I appeal to all errant ‘teachers’ to mend their ways and for all teachers to embrace the anti-corporal punishment law, restore the dignity, pride and respect to the profession and students alike, and teach by example, writes Md Musa Azad
HEADING towards the end of the year is always the time when teachers look back at the school year and reflect upon events of importance in their minds. The heartaches, sadness, gladness, tears, successes, failures – and the endless humanly mixtures possible that come in all sizes. The most significant and magnificent change to the education system in Bangladesh this year, undoubtedly, has been the abolishment of corporal punishment. I applaud Sir Frank Peters on the success of his campaign to have corporal punishment abolished in schools. He has become a national hero to the teachers like me – the silent minority – who regard corporal punishment degrading and demoralizing and without any worthwhile purpose in the teaching profession.
In my 35 years as a teacher, not once did I ever use corporal punishment to communicate my disappointment to a pupil, it’s just not necessary. Every child is born with a sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. Sometimes it’s simply only a matter of a little patience, pointing out the difference to the child, just as a teacher would when describing the difference between a verb and an adverb.
I’ve spent many of my teaching years working alongside ‘teachers’ who not only abused and humiliated the children, but also demoralized teachers like me. Yes, I spoke out many times over the years against such unacceptable behavior, but when you are in a minority, your voice is without sound.
As Sir Frank had vehemently pointed out, a child’s developing hand is particularly vulnerable because its tendon, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels are close to the skin. Striking a hand with a stick can cause deformity, fractures, dislocation, impaired function and lead to osteoarthritis in later years when the actual act of punishment is long forgotten.
Corporal punishment is wrong. There are no explanations or excuses to justify it. Simply, it is no way for any adult to behave towards a minor. Although there are now laws against it, I fear some teachers (including some I know) will have to be severely punished or jailed before they stop their heinous, barbarous acts.
There’s a saying that has stood the test of time – ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’. All children or born pure, it’s how we treat them or behave with them that will alter their attitude towards us. For 2011, I appeal to all errant ‘teachers’ to mend their ways and for all teachers to embrace the anti-corporal punishment law, restore the dignity, pride and respect to the profession and students alike, and teach by example.
Md Musa Azad retired this year after 35 years of teaching.