Monday, 24 Apr 2017

Bangla Version

No religion or decent society allows corporal punishment

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Sir Frank Peters

Health Desk-- Feb 05, 2017: The Sindh Assembly (Pakistan) unanimously passed amendments this week in two private member bills to ban corporal punishment to pupils.

Mehtab Akbar Rashidi, MP, informed the House that the self-respect of children is necessary and there are no acceptations of punishing children, nor any religion or decent society allowed such acts.

“It is an indecent act that a child is attending school and teacher giving him physical punishments,” she said.

Bravo! Bravo! – It is great that yet another country is coming to its senses and coming to terms with the irrefutable fact that the youth of the country is its future and to damage the youth creates a harmful implosion that takes generations to repair. 

No religion or decent society allows such acts. What was that Mehtab Rashidi? It’s worthy of repetition… No religion or decent society allows such acts.

Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, who is Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, told the world media that Islam STRICTLY prohibits physical punishment of both males and females. (Yes, he emphasized the word strictly to ensure there is no mistake or error in interpretation.)

He also underscored that this includes all settings of corporal punishment, in homes, schools and madrassas. Now, if that isn’t good news and something to celebrate for every pupil in Bangladesh, those who are attending a school or madrassa, what is?

 Perhaps truth and reality, however, has something to say here. 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 “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.

That looks great in print, even gives some hope of better times to come to pupils throughout Bangladesh, but it doesn’t diminish the pain, hurt, and humiliation they endure daily. The reality is, the barbaric senseless practice still continues – six years after it was outlawed!

 Six years after it was outlawed! There I go again repeating myself. I just find it difficult to comprehend that headmasters and ‘teachers’ in Bangladesh are so slow in doing what’s right for the pupils of the nation and society on the whole. 

It’s a fundamental fact that corporal punishment serves no useful purpose whatsoever, but causes untold damage to children, family and society. Damaged children ultimately become fragmented adults and it amazes me how quickly children grow and what damage they can do as adults.

Total nonsense

It’s total nonsense for a headmaster or a teacher to claim corporal punishment does no harm, and that it’s an effective tool used in disciplining a child. That’s total rubbish based on ignorance and their inability to teach properly.

Corporal punishment has been proved by countless significant studies worldwide to be a curse where it exists in modern civilised society. It’s been proved by the learned of the learned, experts in many different fields, to be totally ineffective, immoral, humiliating, degrading, harmful and serving no useful purpose whatsoever.

Granted, it may stop misbehaviour momentarily, inject the fear of the perpetrator into the child and appear to be effective, but it isn’t. Corporal punishment causes fear, alienation toward teachers and parents alike and can generate disrespect, despise, and even hatred towards them, and often it does.

Fear has never been conducive to learning. A child who fears a teacher is bad enough, but a child who fears school in totality is on the Fast Track of hate for life.

A classroom is no place for bullies, sadists, mentally disturbed ‘teachers’ or where fear is bred. Neither should it be a place where the once-in-a-lifetime gift of angelic youth, fun, and joy is beaten out, and the horrific blight of hatred, anger, despises of society, and hellish revenge is beaten in.

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.

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?

Tagore

Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore made the astute observation over 100-years ago: “To discipline means to teach, not to punish.” Tagore abhorred corporal punishment. Not only is the horrific act unlawful and morally wrong, but deplorable and grossly insulting to the memory of the great man that his scholarly teachings should be beaten-in to children through corporal punishment. He would NEVER condone the practice.

If only some parents and some ‘teachers’ were to learn that single lesson taught by Tagore, Bangladeshi society would benefit enormously.

It’s been proved that corporal punishment can cause aggression, irreparable mental health and antisocial problems in a child. It hurts, scars and damages children well into adulthood. Why then should they give a hoot about the society that has shown no love, protection, or respect for them or positive response to their tear-filled cries?

Where is the evidence from the teaching fraternity that supports beating a child with a stick, open hand, clenched fist, leather belt, bamboo cane or some other implement; or how by kicking, punching, pinching, pulling their ears and hair or branding them with a red-hot spatula is good for a child?

Not to mention damaging their hearing, eyesight, breaking their limbs, breaking their fingers, or other forms of cruelty children face daily while attempting to learn how to become good, loving, law-abiding, upright citizens? Then there’re the really sad cases of children who protest the brutality and humiliation of corporal punishment through suicide.

Enough is enough! – In the spirit of Mehtab Akbar Rashidi, MP, no religion or decent society would allow such acts.

(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, human rights activist)