Corporal punishment makes sense only to the totally ignorant (those who know
no better), those not very good at teaching, the mentally disturbed or to masochists
It’s been proven over and over and over again that corporal punishment serves no useful purpose whatsoever and doesn’t aid in raising a child’s development or help to make them better citizens. It’s impossible… impossible… impossible to beat-in love and respect
By Sir Frank Peters
The call by The National Action for Quality Education (NAQE) in Zambia to reintroduce corporal punishment in schools is deplorable… an absolute outrage in a modern civilized world.
One of the reasons why corporal punishment has been banned in many schools worldwide is because ‘teachers’ and members of oganizations like NAQE were in great need of discipline themselves, saw themselves akin to being masters over slaves, and acted cruelly, dishonorably and most probably damaged many children – both mentally and physically – in the process.
And the only reason they got away with their consistent brutality was through the ignorance of the parents, politicians, ‘teachers’ and, seemingly, organizations like NAQE.
Instead of putting their own house in order, unshackling themselves from archaic thinking and meeting the 21st-Centuary modern world head-on, they seem to want to reverse the times and promote the abominable cruel days taught to them by their parents, grandparents and those before them, when ignorance reigned supreme and people, parents and teachers alike, knew no better.
These people of bygone days had ignorance as an excuse and knew no better and corporal punishment in the homes and schools were perceived to be ‘discipline’. Discipline and corporal punishment, however, are totally unrelated. Bangladeshi Nobel literature laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who abhorred corporal punishment, said: “To discipline means to teach, not to punish”. Sadly, most ‘teachers’ haven’t read those immortal words, learned from them, or have chosen to ignore them.
Let’s put some facts on the table…
FACT 1: There are no excuses for corporal punishment. There are no redeeming factors. It’s never right to hit a child. Violence should not be taught in the classroom or home. Facts are facts that cannot be altered. Corporal punishment is evil and wrong.
Ask yourself how could hitting children by hand, cane, strap, or other objects, kicking, shaking or throwing them against the wall, scratching, pinching, biting or pulling their hair, forcing them to stay in uncomfortable positions be right?
Or tying them up with ropes, chains or tape, burning, scalding or forcing them to wash their tongues with soap, getting them to drink sewer water, cut themselves with old rusted razor blades, brand them for life with scorching hot spatulas or binding them in chains, to name a few? (And that’s not even taking into the consideration the children who commit suicide out of frustration, despair and feeling unloved).
FACT 2: No religion or decent society allows corporal punishment. There is no doubt ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ is perfect advice for parents, headmasters and teachers alike. The problem, however, lies in the flawed translation of the word ‘rod’ which has caused thousands, if not millions, of children to suffer over the years. In Hebrew the word “rod” is the same word used in Psalms 23:4, ‘thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.’
The shepherd’s rod/staff was/is used to ENCOURAGE, GUIDE, and DISCIPLINE the sheep towards taking a desired direction, NOT to beat, hurt or damage them. No farmer would damage his valuable stock.
The correct interpretation of the proverb, therefore, should read ‘spare good GUIDANCE and spoil the child’.
And this, you must admit, makes sense. But if you are in doubt, pause a moment or two… can you imagine the holiest of holy men like Muhammad or Jesus, who preached universal love, beating and damaging an innocent little child for some silly trifling mistake that adds up to nothing in the end? Isn’t it more likely they would shake their head or a finger in a loving manner, smile, point out the error of their ways and offer them verbal correction?
Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, told the world media recently that Islam STRICTLY prohibits physical punishment of both males and females.
Where does it say in the Bible that Mary and Joseph beat Jesus or that Jesus beat the children he taught?
In 2011 High Court justices Md. Imman Ali and Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed the barbaric practice of corporal punishment in Bangladesh schools and madrasahs declaring it to be “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.
FACT 3: Corporal punishment makes sense only to the totally ignorant (those who know no better), those not very good at teaching, and the mentally disturbed or to masochists.
There isn’t a shred of evidence in support of corporal punishment. Even religious bodies have carried out independent extensive research hoping to support their misconduct and misdeeds, but miserably failed.
On the other hand it is now bordering on being criminal the amount of reports and books that have been published protesting the horrific practice because they’re decreasing the tree population!
All the reports, without exception, contain thoroughly researched and irrefutable evidence that conclusively prove beyond a shadow of doubt, the practice is harmful and dangerous to the individual and society at large.
It’s been proven over and over and over again that corporal punishment serves no useful purpose whatsoever and doesn’t aid in raising a child’s development or help to make them better citizens. It’s impossible… impossible… impossible to beat-in love and respect.
FACT 4: A child/person will NOT misbehave if she/he holds respect for the other person/teacher. It is up to the person/teacher to gain the child’s respect. Appreciation is the greatest respect maker known to man. If a teacher spends more time appreciating and encouraging a child’s effort for what he/she has achieved and not knock or criticize his/her work, a classroom would take on a different, more positive atmosphere. That is the direction I feel Mr Aaron Chansa, the organization’s executive director, should be taking the NAQE. And if that means getting rid of the dead wood in the system, which gives teaching a bad name, so be it. It’s time to get real.
FACT 5: A teacher’s job is to teach. It is not to be a classroom police officer or to correct the misbehaviour the child learned elsewhere. If the teacher had the respect of the pupils, there wouldn’t be any misbehaviour in the classroom. The other pupils would jump to the teachers defence and squash it before it had time to ignite.
A teacher should be aware that in the classroom, they are not alone and are representing the parents of the child and as such, they should be able to call upon the parents for support at any time.
It all comes down to attitude. If a teacher holds a good attitude towards his/her pupils, the respect will be mutual. You do not make friends and gain their respect by beating them with sticks.
If teachers in Zambia sincerely want to avoid giving corporal punishment, they might to try this…
Every classroom should have a picture gallery comprising of photographs of the child’s authoritative family figure (perhaps mother, father, grandfather, grandmother or uncle).
If the pupil misbehaves, all it might require is for the teacher to point to the photo that sends the warning ‘he/she will be told’. It also gives the stick honourable use.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, and a human rights activist.)