EDITORIAL – Corporal punishment is unethical

EDITORIAL — Corporal punishment is unethical
By Shafiqul Alam
The Financial Express, Bangladesh, May 4, 2011

Once again, a case of corporal punishment has become news in the media even though this form of punishment has been banned by the government following a ruling of the High Court in January this year. This time, an administrative officer has beaten a student of an English medium school in the city. This form of punishment, which is a violation of human rights, is an impediment to achieving real education.Normally, corporal punishment is the use of physical force causing pain, as a means of discipline. Spanking, rapping on the head and slapping etcetera are the forms of corporal punishment which, normally, we do not classify as abuse. But it is just one of the wrong ways to discipline a child. The risk of causing emotional harm to children suggests us to seek alternatives. The use of corporal punishment has been persistent in our society through generations; however, this does not mean that corporal punishment is acceptable. But whichever justification is given for corporal punishment, the effects are the same and this punishment harms students and children.

To be honest, corporal punishment starts from our families when a mother smacks her son to get rid of his torment; when a father beats his son or even elder brother hits his younger to teach right or wrong. Possibly, we all have experienced this type of corporal punishment. Many people in the country do not see corporal punishment as something strange, something to be questioned, and yet it does make us feel uncomfortable. Even people who think there are good reasons for corporal punishment often cannot avoid feeling slightly uneasy after meting it out. They do not feel good about it.

The effects of corporal punishment on children are many, such as, it lowers their self-esteem; it makes children feel lonely, sad and abandoned; it promotes a negative view of other people and of society as a threatening place; it creates barriers that impede teacher-student communication and damages the emotional links established between them; it stimulates anger; it teaches that violence is an acceptable way of solving problems; it does not teach children to cooperate with authority; and it teaches them to comply with the rules or to infringe them.

I can recall a case back in 1993/94 but that was in a mosque. In the afternoon, we used to go to the mosque to recite the Holy Quran, but on that special afternoon we were discussing something thinking that the Imam was not there. But the Imam observed that very well and suddenly caned one of my friends so brutally that my friend lost his control and tumbled a few steps. According to that Imam, talking is a punishable crime while reciting the Holy Quran. Point to be noted that in 1993/94, we were the students of class five or six. After that suffering, none of us had ever gone to the mosque to recite the Quran. This is one of the serious consequences of corporal punishment and if we look at the actual data we might find numerous cases of such kind.

Although corporal punishment is a part of our tradition, this does not mean that it is good or makes it unchangeable. Having the support of citizens, parents, human rights organisations, NGOs and political parties is the best way to abolish the use of corporal punishment against children. In this regard, The United Nations Commission on Human Rights, during its 60th Session in Geneva, with the support of the High Commission for Human Rights, members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, child focused non-governmental organization (NGOs), as well as individuals prominent in the promotion and protection of children’s human rights, have launched a global initiative towards ending all corporal punishment of children.

Many teachers are still in the belief that without punishing students, they would not be able to teach them. But today this kind of antique idea is no longer workable rather a friendly relationship is needed.

Teaching is not only a giving profession but also a caring profession. Teachers are responsible to groom future citizens, leaders, and workers with appropriate skills, knowledge and values. That is why the teacher-student relationship is so important.

Needless to say that it is not an easy task for a teacher to become popular with their students. As students come from heterogeneous backgrounds, their attitude can also be different but it is a teacher who will bring the necessary changes in their attitudes. Unfortunately, teachers, now-a-days, become intolerant quickly and apply corporal punishment to control rowdy students.

Putting an end to corporal punishment is an ethical duty. Corporal punishment is a means of discipline that relies on intimidation and submissiveness. Thus, it needs no repeating that corporal punishment is a violation of human rights. In this regard, teachers’ commitment to their profession, training and knowledge are important factors. And the fact to be considered that hitting man is a crime and students are the holders of human rights too. Moreover, the motto should be: educate, don’t punish.

The writer can be reached at e-mail: shafiqul0032@yahoo.com


See index for “Anti-Corporal Punishment Editorials — 1871–2011” at www.nospank.net/edits.htm