Corporal punishment (CP) has been much in the news of late, especially in Bangladesh, which this month celebrated the fifth year of its ban in schools to protect its children and the nation’s future.
Dr. Ronald W. Pies, MD, professor of psychiatry and lecturer on biothetics and humanity for State University of New York Upstate Medical University, said CP on children should NEVER be used under any circumstances because its “ineffective and damaging”.
“Hitting children takes a toll on a child’s mental health, teaches children that physical violence fixes problems, and it’s often the first form of child abuse,” he said.
“As a psychiatrist, I can’t ignore the overwhelming evidence that corporal punishment, including spanking (which is usually defined as hitting a child with an open hand without causing physical injury), takes a serious toll on the mental health of children, ” he added.
In an American CP review, Professor Michele S. Knox, Ph.D., from the University of Toledo College of Medicine, noted a striking irony in the hypocritical American attitude toward CP.
No decent human being would ever use corporal punishment on a child. This senseless cruelty to children must stop
She said that in the United States it is against the law to hit prisoners, criminals, other adults, or animals, but ironically, in some states it is still legal to hit the most vulnerable members of society – children.
Knox, like many mental health professionals, cites a strong correlation between CP and child abuse. She said: “spanking is often the first step in the cycle of child abuse.
“What may begin as the parent’s well-intentioned wish to discipline a child often ends with the parent’s mounting anger and worsening blows.”
She went on to say, “It isn’t that a parent or teacher is ‘evil’ by nature or is a ‘child abuser’. Often, the teacher or parent has been stressed to breaking point, and is not aware of alternative methods of discipline, such as time-outs, removing privileges and reinforcing a child's positive behaviors,” the expert said.
When Bangladesh’s most honourable high court justices, Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif banned CP in Bangladesh schools and madrasahs, they defined CP as 'cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom.’
Hitting children takes a toll on a child’s mental health, teaches children that physical violence fixes problems, and it’s often the first form of child abuse
The evidence favoring the abolition of CP in all settings is irrefutable, overwhelming and conclusive. Simply put; CP is a waste of time, wrong, has no benefit, but worse, it causes irreparable damage. There are no loopholes or right settings in which CP could/should be used. No decent human being would ever use corporal punishment on a child.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, issued a statement in 2012 that concluded: '…although corporal punishment may have a high rate of immediate behavior modification, it is ineffective over time, and is associated with increased aggression and decreased moral internalization of appropriate behavior.'
From whatever angle you look at it; CP is not only worthless as a tool of discipline, but also shamefully destructive to child and society, and it's wrong. This senseless cruelty to children must stop.
Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, human rights activist, and a respected foreign friend of Bangladesh.
BDST: 1222 HRS, JAN 31, 2016