One day, long after I've departed, those who inhabit this world will look back and shake their heads in utter disbelief and dismay at the pervasive ignorance that existed during this period of time. Hands will shoot up in classrooms from bewildered little owners seeking clarification.

Not only will corporal punishment to children have been abolished in all settings, but many people - children especially - will find it incredibly hard to believe it ever really existed or if it were just a myth manufactured in a mind like that of Harry Potter author R. K. Rowling.

Flesh and blood impregnated sticks, leather straps, and paddles will be valuable historic artifacts kept in museums cased in glass in sunlight, heat, and humidity-controlled environments and under lock and key. Touching them will be strictly prohibited in fear of damaging the priceless heirlooms from ancient cruel times... the Age of Ignorance.

Decorative gilt-edged cards resting alongside each display will relate the item to The Stone Age, The Ice Age, and the Age of Ignorance, where we are at present. Children will press their cold noses against the glass and stare in shock, bewilderment, and disbelief that corporal punishment abuse could ever have happened. How could anyone be so cruel, so unkind, so lacking compassion or even think of such horrors.

That's in the distant future, but we are now living in the present where the world can't even distinguish between discipline, cruelty, and abuse. Religion tells us there is only one God. Similarly, there is only one discipline. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore succinctly describes that as, "discipline means to teach, not to punish" and that mirrors what the GOOD books tell us.

The good books also tell us 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' but satanic influence kicks-in and programmes us differently. An error in translation of the word 'rod' has caused untold pain and suffering throughout the centuries. Rod doesn't mean stick, as we know it today. It means guidance/advice/teach as Tagore tells us.

Many people are fond of quoting Holy Scriptures to justify their corporal punishment brutality, particularly the verse in Proverbs 13:24 that reads, 'He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him'.

In Hebrew, however, 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'.

Slowly, but surely, corporal punishment will be relegated to the past.

Sweden the country that gave us the iconic ABBA, Volvo, and Ikea, was the first to awaken to the horrific damage corporal punishment was having upon its children and society.

In 1979, it became the first nation to explicitly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment of children by all caretakers in an effort to: (1) alter public attitudes toward this practice; (2) increase early identification of children at risk for abuse; and (3) promote earlier and more supportive intervention to families.

'That's a good idea', thought Finland in 1983 and followed suit. Four later Norway saw the folly of its ways and corporal punishment began a domino effect of sorts.

One would have thought that children are the same worldwide, apart from different languages, accents, and skin pigmentation and that ALL governments on the planet would have acted as Sweden did. After all corporal punishment is unequivocally unadulterated child abuse. How could any government or society condone it?

The Roll of Honour maintained by lists the following countries as those who endear, respect, and protect its children from the evils of corporal punishment.

2022 - Zambia, Mauritius; 2021 - Republic of Korea, Colombia; 2020 - Japan, Seychelles, Guinea; 2019 - Georgia, South Africa, France, Republic of Kosovo; 2018 - Nepal; 2017 - Lithuania; 2016 - Mongolia, Montenegro, Paraguay, Slovenia; 2015 - Benin, Ireland, Peru; 2014, Andorra, Estonia, Nicaragua, San Marino, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Malta; 2013 - Cabo Verde, Honduras, North Macedonia; 2011 - South Sudan; 2010 - Albania, Congo (Republic of), Kenya, Tunisia, Poland; 2008 - Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Republic of Moldova, Costa Rica; 2007 - Togo, Spain, Venezuela, Uruguay, Portugal, New Zealand, Netherland; 2006 - Greece; 2005 - Hungary; 2004 - Romania, Ukraine; 2003 - Iceland; 2002 - Turkmenistan; 2000 - Germany, Israel, Bulgaria; 1999 - Croatia; 1998 - Latvia; 1997 - Denmark; 1994 - Cyprus; 1989 - Austria 1987 - Norway; 1983 - Finland; 1979 - Sweden.

No, don't strain your eyes. Bangladesh is NOT on the list - as yet. Our beloved Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, has repeatedly declared the children of Bangladesh to be its greatest asset... its future... so logically one would expect it to be added to the Roll of Honour soon.

When that occurs - and only when that occurs - can we seriously map out a path towards becoming a Sonar Bangla nation, as Bangabandhu envisaged.

It's an irrefutable fact good health reigns supreme in all our lives. So the mental and physical health of the children is imperative. Corporal punishment imparts mental health issues, poor self-esteem, and questionable morals. Some broken children grow up to become broken adults and there's no sonar glory in that.

Joi Bangla!

Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, human rights activist, Honorary Member of the Bangladesh Freedom Fighters, and a foreign friend of Bangladesh.

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