Corporal punishment is reprehensible and should be banned immediately
Over the years, corporal punishment has been in accordance with the laws of Guyana and the exploitation of this situation is becoming very severe and threatening to our children.
Corporal punishment such as over-bench, beating in the palm of the hand and other physical abuse is reprehensible and should be banned immediately. It is time to move away from the old, conventional wisdom that threatening and punishing a student will motivate them to achieve. Instead, we should transition to 21st century programs like school-wide positive behaviour which encourages, rewards and breeds good behaviour from the beginning.
I am glad that corporal punishment is now seen as negative and should be banned… it should have been banned 40 or 50 years ago. It is barbaric, uncivilized, an excuse to physically abuse children, and has never been shown to be effective at all in correcting behavior. Instead, it causes children to suffer silently, and puts them under constant stress and anxiety. While the physical damage done to the body can be treated, the emotional and psychological effects can affect the child deeply.
Some parents and child tenders practice corporal punishment because of the belief that children do not grow to be well-mannered adults if they are not spanked or beaten when they make mistakes. Some even say that abolishing corporal punishment is a Western-centric concept that will cause havoc and lead to moral decay. Come on! We are living in the 21st century, children need discipline but they need to learn self-discipline through non-violent and non-humiliating ways.
Corporal punishment does not help a child to develop into an adult with self-discipline and respect for other people. Instead, it distorts sound judgment and creates anti-social behaviour. It is said that violence breeds violence. The use of corporal punishment on children contributes to a perception from an early age that violence is an appropriate response to conflict resolution and unwanted behaviour. It teaches them that it is acceptable for powerful persons to be violent towards the weak and to resolve conflicts through violence.
Any of you corporal-punishment promoters ever hear of “lead by example”? What example are you setting when you make it clear that violence is your preferred solution for controlling behaviour? You’re teaching those kids to use violence to affect the behaviour of those that they don’t agree with. Violence with a stick, a bat, a gun, it’s all the same. You’re teaching them to use whatever means they have necessary to physically punish those that they want to punish.
The escalating levels of gender violence, especially against women and children, are evidence of this archaic and despicable method of disciplining young people. Children exposed to non-peaceful ways of conflict resolution often become perpetrators of gender violence in their adulthood. Exposing children to violence can make them potential perpetrators of such vices later in life. As a country that promotes “no violence against women and children” we should tackle the cause from the roots.
Corporal punishment violates human rights, physical integrity and human dignity, as upheld by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children too have the right to be heard. But more often than not, society does not want to accord them the opportunity to do so. This is because adults tend to think that children are incapable of reasoning and hence cannot be consulted even on issues concerning them. Given a choice, children would prefer to be disciplined in non-violent and non-humiliating ways.
Abolishing corporal punishment in schools by Government is not enough. There is need for legislation to be implemented so as to protect children from violence and to promote human dignity and advance human rights. It should be noted that both corporal punishment and humiliating punishment are not only harmful to children but also violate children’s rights.
We are calling on all Guyanese to give children their rights in schools.