SIR FRANK PETERS
August 1, 2017: When a child’s plaintive cry for help goes unnoticed, the results are never painless.
Take for example, a grade-7 student in the Baramulla district this week. She consumed poison after being subjected to corporal punishment at her school.
Feeling humiliated, helpless and seeing no resolve to her hellish situation, the star pupil attempted to end her misery through suicide, but fortunately was prevented.
There is no louder cry for help to God or man a person can make than to commit suicide. It’s extremely sad when an adult decides to end his/her own life, but it’s absolutely appalling – an indictment on society itself – when children lose all hope and decide life isn’t worth pursuing… and they having travelled only metres from the start line.
Justice Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif outlawed the senseless practice in 2011 declaring corporal punishment to be: ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom’.
Not only is corporal punishment unlawful in Bangladesh and morally wrong it’s a proven fact corporal punishment is the refuge of the ignorant. It 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 to beat-in love and respect – impossible.
There’s a mountain of evidence in support of this fact. There have been countless extensive studies carried out by the leading universities of the world, psychoanalysts and other experts seeking justification for the continuance of corporal punishment in society. All, without exception, concluded there isn’t any. Even religious organizations that carried out costly independent studies seeking evidence in support of their wrongdoings over the centuries were unsuccessful.
When the lying, untruths and senseless stupidity, cruelty, and madness of corporal punishment will end, is anyone’s guess.
Sure there’s been much progress over the years by the awakening of many nations to the incredible damage, the ghastly implosion corporal punishment has been causing to their youngest most vulnerable and defenceless citizens and society on the whole. These nations (with the exception of some American states) are coming to their senses and criminalizing corporal punishment in schools and homes; but that hasn’t totally eliminated the horrific futile practice.
A law on paper banning the practice is equivalent to a crayon doodle on parchment to many with little or no effect. Corporal punishment is ingrained so deep in Bangladeshi society it’s going to take more than a stop notice on cheap yellowish-faded paper from the Department of Education to execute real effect and stop the cancerous decay… but at least Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid and his department are trying.
The cruelty imposed by alleged educated ‘teachers’, especially in villages, upon the most vulnerable, defenceless members of society is appalling, their shame and damage immeasurable.
Over the years, children have been brutalized, maimed, and beaten senseless, physically and psychologically damaged for life by ‘terrorist’ ‘teachers’ in schools and madrasahs. Sadly, ignorant parents believing the ‘teachers’ were disciplining and best serving their children encouraged them.
There have been some horrific cases in Bangladesh. Suicides apart, take for example the 'hellish nightmare' that unfolded at the Talimul Quran Mahila Madrasa in Kadamtali where 14 young girls were literally branded for life with a red-hot cooking spatula by their 'teacher' to demonstrate her concept of what hell would be like!
And what about the 'teacher' at a Sunamganj school who forced students of Class V for not doing their homework to cut their hands and legs with used razor blades until they bled.
Just this week a class V student was ordered by the hostel warden of Shantiniketan's Patha Bhavan School to lick her urine as punishment for bed-wetting.
And it gets worse…
Fajjar Noor a 14-year-old Pakistani girl was allegedly pushed by two of her teachers from the rooftop of a school building for refusing to clean the classroom. She is now battling for her life.
In Japan this week, surprisingly, a teacher told a fourth grade boy to "jump out the window and stop coming to school". The classroom is on the third floor! The ‘teacher’ had previously kicked the boy in the back.
Some ‘teachers’ have even given a whole new dimension to marketing.
Don’t think for one moment that the same thing or similar cannot happen to your child or someone you know. Wherever there are motor vehicles and reckless drivers, there is always the possibility of an accident or a fatality. Schools and rogue school ‘teachers’ can achieve similar results.
Corporal punishment must stop and education made violence free.
Jordan gathered experts, religious figures and officials last week calling for better protection for children.
“What might be seen as an innocent disciplinary act by one person, might be, according to other standards, very harmful and proven to cause deep psychological scars that stays with the child for a long time,” said psychologist Tayseer Shawash.
East Tennessee State University psychologist Dr. Diana Morelen said children need more emotional behavioural support and positive reinforcement.
“Although physical discipline may have some short-term benefits, science shows strong evidence that it’s dangerous long-term. Research, involving 160,000 kids dating back more than 50 years, found corporal punishment is linked to aggression, antisocial behaviour, mental health problems and low self-esteem,” she said.
Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, who abhorred corporal punishment, said: “To discipline means to teach, not to punish”. Sadly, most ‘teachers’ haven’t absorbed this.
The descriptions ‘corporal punishment’ and ‘abuse’ are interchangeable. The word ‘discipline’ strongly protested and objected to being in the same dictionary.
While great strides are being made worldwide to abolish corporal punishment in all forms, in all settings, to help correct the errors of their ignorant ways of the past, one cannot help but feel great sorry for the children of Texas on their backward journey to the dark ages.
Three schools in Texas that teach four to 18-year-olds at elementary, junior and senior high school levels are reintroducing corporate punishment to their pupils. Staff will be permitted to use a wooden paddle to beat them. Fortunately, only children whose parents consent to the abuse will receive it. It will be interesting to learn how many ignorant parents there are in the Three Rivers Independent School District and how many who claim to love their children subject their God-given gift to this abuse.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, a humanitarian, a royal Goodwill Ambassador and a foreign friend of Bangladesh.)