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Corporal punishment has no place in schools in this day and age

By Kadima Emmanuel | March 11th 2021
Students at a school [Courtesy]

Research has shown that corporal punishment in school is not effective and can do more harm than good. Research has also shown that more students of colour and students with disabilities experience instances of corporal punishment more than their peers. Studies have further shown that children who are beaten and abused are more likely to be prone to depression, low self-esteem and suicide.

The simple fact that corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure is not part of any education curriculum indicates that educators know it has no place in the classroom. Discipline can and should be taught by example and through non-physical consequences.

Most leading professional associations oppose corporal punishment in all its forms. Corporal punishment is not allowed in the military, mental institutions or prisons either. Most private schools frown upon corporal punishment. Many schools have found more effective methods of dealing with disciplinary issues.

Honour codes and clearly spelt-out results for infractions combined with contract law, give private schools an edge in dealing with discipline. Basically, if you do something seriously wrong, you will get suspended or expelled from school. You will have no recourse because you have no legal rights other than those in the contract which you signed with the school.

Forced exercise is one of several unacknowledged forms of corporal punishment. Though the practice is unequivocally condemned by physical education experts, it is widely used. It is a staple of locked facilities where troubled youth are corralled ostensibly for the purpose of being reformed.

Punitive restriction of movement also qualifies as corporal punishment. When done to incarcerated adults, it is deemed a violation of human rights. When done to schoolchildren, it’s called “discipline”. In school environments where buttock beating is key to student management and discipline, all the myriad lesser forms of punishment children are subjected to such as ear twisting, cheek squeezing, finger jabbing, arm grabbing, slamming against the wall and general manhandling pass unrecognised for what they really are.

In today’s world, if corporal punishment is allowed in school, it will affect the child’s mental development and it can also be considered physical abuse. Studies show that if children get hurt physically, their work and behaviour will reflect this. Corporal punishment should be banned in all schools because of violent attitudes in children, educational progress and psychological damage to the child. Physical punishment such as spanking erodes the developmental growth in children and also degrades the child’s IQ.

When psychological damage occurs, children do not develop properly and this leads to children becoming psychologically unstable. They are constantly afraid of being physically punished. The whole point of teachers punishing students is to help them and make them improve. Isn’t it therefore better to motivate them using kind and influential words rather than forcing them to work? There must be punishments for worst-case scenarios, but there are several alternative ways of “punishing” a child in an efficient and productive manner such as community service, extra work or counselling. Corporal punishment should not be allowed in schools.

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The writer is Kadima Emmanuel of Maseno University.

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