The Republic of Korea has become the 62nd country to prohibit corporal punishment to children, and the fourth in the Asia Pacific region.
With a child population of nine million, the South Korea’s prohibition means 300 million children worldwide are now fully protected from violent punishment by law.
This is not just a critically important step for children in South Korea; it’s also a good, moral and proper example to other countries, which, for reasons only God knows, have yet to take this important step to protect children, who are said to be their most valuable national asset (if we are to believe what their leaders say).
A new law was also implemented this week by the Punjab government preventing teachers from slapping or torturing pupils. Their new bill criminalizes all forms of corporal punishment at educational institutions and rehabilitation centres.
Also this week Harvard University released a new study that confirms smacking damages a child's brain similar to if they were being severely physically abused, the study warns.
Associate Professor Katie McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology at Harvard, said: "We know that children subjected to corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behaviour problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence.”
By preventing corporal punishment by parents, ‘teachers’ and imams, the most common form of child abuse will ceases to exist.
Teacher violence against young students is not only illegal and immoral, but as in many countries like Bangladesh, this law against corporal punishment is rarely enforced, and it’s common for frustrated ‘teachers’ and imams to beat their students so severely, even to the point of killing them, as witnessed recently here or the pupils killing themselves in an effort to escape the cruelty and brutality.
Pupils are constantly told ‘watch and learn’. When 50 pupils in a Bangladesh classroom see a ‘teacher’/Imam ‘lose-it’, blow their top, go berserk, and beat up a child, they’re not teaching discipline, they’re teaching violence. Violence begets violence. They’re teaching all the wrongs society detests. Not only that, the pupils are witnessing their should-be role models boldly hold up their middle finger to the law in a ‘we’ll do what we like’ attitude.
Teachers should be roles models
Is that what a child goes to a school/madrasa to learn? How to become a thug, lessons in terrorism, and how to disrespect the rights of fellow humans?
I find it incredible that in this day and age of alleged enlightenment there are still debates on going around the world about corporal punishment in schools, homes and madrasas, actually trying to justify its existence. Corporal punishment and DDT have much in common: both are poisonous to society.
Following World War II, DDT was promoted as a wonder-chemical, the simple solution to pest problems large and small. Today, nearly 40 years after DDT was banned in the USA we continue to live with its long-lasting effects.
Similarly, corporal punishment was promoted as the simple solution to discipline problems large and small. It’s been handed down from one ignorant generation to another.
In 2001 the errors of using DDT were recognized and the product was banned, but not before it had caused enormous damage to the environment and food chain worldwide.
Corporal punishment has had more red cards thrown-in its face and countless millions of words written against the inhuman practice in immeasurable, irrefutable studies and reports by government agencies, universities and esteemed professional organizations like the American Psychological Society (just to mention one), but it still continues.
Why? What’s wrong with people, even those who profess to love their children and God?
What’ s preventing the inborn God-given instincts or moral conscience from kicking-in and simply affirming the practice is WRONG? How could a wrong ever be a right?
Why isn’t it obvious to everyone there NEVER was justification for corporal punishment?
The only right time to ever hit a child is ‘tomorrow’... and we all know tomorrow never comes.
Discipline – YES! Corporal punishment – NO!
In 2011, Supreme Court Justices Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif outlawed corporal punishment in schools and madrasas throughout Bangladesh and declared it ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom’.
Corporal punishment is related to discipline like chalk is to cheese. We all need discipline. Every aspect of life demands discipline. While discipline is constructive and foremost in the values scale with the likes of oxygen and water, Corporal punishment is diagonally opposite: destructive and harmful to body, mind, spirit and, most probably the greatest self-made threat to a peace-loving society.
Human sacrificial offerings
To some ‘teachers’/imams Corporal punishment is a kind of daily human sacrificial offering to their God (whoever or whatever theirs might be) and is simply another name for child abuse, torture, intolerable cruelty and brutality. It’s wrong… wrong… wrong… it just couldn’t be right.
If, as we are told, we are children of God, who on this earth has the right to beat and possibly damage the property of Allah physically or mentally? The obvious answer is ‘no one’. And when that injustice is delivered by an imam or ‘teacher’ who convince themselves they are on a mission of God, its hypocrisy at the highest level and even more reprehensible.
If you remove guns from people there is no possibility of they ever shooting you. If you remove those ‘teachers’ and imams who break the law and bring discredit in the eyes of God and man, lesser are the chances of damage being done to the nation’s future and most valuable assets.
It is the height of hypocrisy for any government to claim children are its most valuable asset and not give them the protection and support they need to grow and blossom.
Corporal punishment to children is so deep-rooted in the ethos of Bangladesh it will take a national collective conscience to eradicate it completely, but its possible and one day it will happen.
The decontamination process and deactivating the time bomb begins with every parent, guardian and pupil standing up for their legal rights collectively and saying ‘NO’.
The simple word ‘no’ is a very powerful and effective weapon in the arsenal of mankind. It just needs to be practiced more often in many settings. Schools, madrasahs and other institutions are ideal platforms.
Say ‘no’ to corporal punishment and if the offenders don’t understand its meaning, let the Bangladesh courts explain it to them.
Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, a humanitarian, a royal goodwill ambassador and a long-time friend of Bangladesh. Three Bangladeshi boys have been named ‘Frank Peters’ in his honour.