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25 November, 2015 00:00 00 AM

Corporal punishment doesn’t beat the hell out of children; it beats hell into them!

Sir Frank Peters
Corporal punishment doesn’t beat the hell out of children; it beats hell into them!

There’s never justification for a teacher to hit a child. They can make up all the excuses under the sun to justify their actions, but the facts remain that two-plus-two will always add to four and that corporal punishment is damaging and wrong. If corporal punishment achieved good, benefitted the child, benefitted society, benefitted the nation, I’d be all for it and even helping to administer it on street corners, but it achieves the exact opposite.
It is the most evil practice ever admitted into schools and madrasas and has brought out the most appalling and worst side of human nature in demonised ‘teachers’. The appalling practice has a long history. It is the cancer in society that’s been unwittingly passed down generation after generation, from one to the next, in sheer ignorance of its colossal dangers to child, family, society and nation. Corporal punishment doesn’t beat the hell out of children; it beats hell into them.
Most parents will tell you their child is “a gift from Allah”. In the same breath, without needing to inhale, they’ll add “I love him (or her) more than anything else in the world”. They might even throw in for good measure: “I’m prepared to give my own life for the happiness and well-being of my child”.
These aren’t words spoken on an empty stomach, but channeled in a direct link from the heart to the tongue and spoken with utmost sincerity, but why is this great love parked outside the school or madrassa premises? Why does it not enter the school with the child and offer the ‘loved one’ protection? Why is the child left on his/her own to defend him/herself against government salaried bullies who would think nothing of whacking the child and possibly damaging the child for life, in the name of discipline?

Discipline? – Many ‘teachers’ don’t know meaning of discipline. There is no relationship whatsoever between corporal punishment and discipline, it’s like comparing chalk and cheese, black and white, oranges and lemons. Discipline is the name ignorant people choose to give to the evil, cruelty, and abuse of children through corporal punishment.
Internationally-renowned Bangladeshi poet, playwright, novelist, philosopher, intellectual and winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1913, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), put it in a nutshell, when he said:  “To discipline means to teach, not to punish”.
If a child errs in math, or makes a mistake in any other school subject, it makes no sense whatsoever to beat the child with a stick (or worse) and punish the child. It’s as natural as birth itself to make mistakes and people do regularly, but they don’t get punished for doing so.
If corporal punishment were effective I would be encouraging the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to go through the government offices several times daily and lash out at the slackers… for the benefit of the nation!
There is absolutely no place in modern society for corporal punishment of any kind. There never was justification for the evil, barbaric, archaic practice and the civilised world is learning this now.
Extensive (and expensive) study after study by reputable premier organizations and universities throughout the world have researched the horrific inhumane practice of corporal punishment on children (some hoping to find justification), but ALL, without exception, conclude it is wrong, damaging, totally ineffective, and needs to be abolished.
On January 13, 2011 Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif outlawed corporal punishment in Bangladesh schools and madrassas.
The learned justices and folk heroes-to-be (history will remember them), defined the act as ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom’.
Jubilant children throughout Bangladesh celebrated like a Bangladesh cricket victory or when Musa Ibrahim became the first Bangladeshi to climb Mount Everest.  There were Coke and Pepsi cans popping in the streets in celebration. National joy skyrocketed to dizzy heights. Wow! Yipee! Yahoo! And all of that… almost five years later, however, the cruelty still continues, much to the disgrace of some ‘teachers’ and the schools, madrasa, and teaching organization to which they belong. Now when teachers hit a child, they’re also teaching the child its okay to break the law.
A weapon of ignorance
Corporal punishment is the weapon of the most ignorant and sick members of society, whether that is teachers, parents or both. A wrong is a wrong; a sin is a sin, to whomsoever it applies. It’s natural that loving parents want what’s the best for their children and some refer to the ‘good book’ for guidance and support. We read how it states in the “good book”, “spare the rod and spoil the child” and in the same breath ‘he who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him’. Fantastic! – I’m all for it – Give the child as much “rod” as humanly possible . . . every day . . . every minute of the day. Be ready with the “rod” at all times, day or night. In fact, it’s your parental duty to do so. These extracts from the “good book” are generally interpreted to mean, that if children are not physically disciplined when they do wrong, their personal development will suffer. That’s all well and good and idea is on the right track, but there’s a major problem – the translation. 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 shepherd would intentionally damage his stock and reduce his profits.
The correct interpretation of the proverb, therefore, should read, “spare good GUIDANCE and spoil the child” and “he who spares GOOD GUIDANCE hates his son but he who loves him is careful to discipline him”. That’s logical and makes mountains of sense.
Why would anyone of even reasonable intelligence think that beating a child (whether light or hard) is a good thing and it would make him or her better citizens? A damaged child today is a broken adult tomorrow and a potential threat to society. Jails throughout the world are full of broken adults that were damaged as children that Superglue was unable to fix. The majority of jail inmates in the USA have had a history of corporal punishment. There are 19 American states that still condone corporal punishment to pupils, but… but… the Head teacher administers it, so that make it right. - Eh? Get real. What goes around, comes around… you reap what you sow. Have another look at America.
But you don’t need to look to the USA for examples of shocking social behaviour, you can smell the aggression and witness the violence during hartals – the playing fields and meeting points of thugs, terrorists, goons, loonies, miscreants, the misled and disillusioned and without a shadow of doubt, corporal punishment recipients. Why would any parent send the child they claim to love “more than anything on earth” to a school that beats them, mistreats them and teaches them violence, aggression, and bullying is the solution to all problems, not to mention the risk of damaging them for life. If that is parental love, keep it!
A classroom should not be a torture chamber or a hellhole of fear, or a place for bullies, sadists, mentally-disturbed ‘teachers’ where the Heavenly once-in-a-lifetime gift of youth, fun and joy is beaten out, and the blight of hatred, anger, despise of authority and society and revenge are beaten in.
Inflicting physical blows, mental and physical torture upon a child only breed’s resentment, violence, disrespect, hatred and vengeance in them and promotes a gun-toting, knife-wielding, bamboo-swinging outlaw society. Why would any parent want their child to be part of that? Why would any school want to teach that? Corporal punishment is at the root of all that’s evil.
Children need a safe, child-friendly, happy environment where appreciation and encouragement flows freely in abundance even when their initial efforts aren’t all that great, but they’re trying. Criticism, condemnation and corporal punishment are destructive and stunt their development.
It’s obvious corporal punishment just doesn’t work, never did and never will and we should not condone it or give protection to those who perform it.
Bangladeshi parents, individually and collectively, need to ask themselves what kind of adults they would like their children to become.
I believe they would wish them to be physically and emotionally healthy, intellectually capable, and self-disciplined; to lead productive lives, to sustain themselves and their families, to become decent, law-abiding citizens and help sustain the hard-won democracy Bangladesh nobly won. A school or madrasa that practices corporal punishment is not a helping friend.
Preventing your child from possibly being damaged for life by corporal punishment is as easy as saying ‘no’. In fact, that’s exactly what you say, NO!
If your child attends a school or madrassa that practices corporal punishment, visit it and tell the Head Teacher you do not want your child to be given corporal punishment. You are exercising your right as a parent and protector of your child. The Head teacher knows corporal punishment is against the law. Your visit tells him that you also know and the school is expected to be on its best behaviour as far as your family is concerned.
Hidden power and amazing results come to those who stand up for their rights. Your child will love and thank you eternally and isn’t that all that matters?
The writer is a human rights advocate, an
award-winning writer, a former newspaper publisher and editor


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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