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New study calls for immediate end to corporal punishment in schools

Corporal punishment picture Sir Frank Peters :: A University of Florida research team is calling for an immediate end to corporal punishment in schools. It underscores that scientific evidence increasingly justifies abolishing corporal punishment.

Adding yet another nail to the coffin of the despicable barbaric practice, the 33-page report describes corporal punishment as ‘violent, out-dated, and largely responsible for increased school dropouts’.

One of the three authors and an associate professor of special education, Joseph Gagnon, said: “Corporal punishment is archaic. We need to spread awareness that scientific evidence increasingly justifies abolishing corporal punishment in favour of more effective, positive ways to manage classroom behaviour.”

As in many other studies conducted worldwide, Gagnon said most current research shows corporal punishment has little or no positive long-term effect on students; it lowers their self-esteem, and instils hostility and rage without curbing the undesired behaviour.

Our own eminent Supreme Court Justices, Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed the shameful practice in Bangladesh schools on January 13, 2011; declaring it to be “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.

The University of Florida report cites 16 national expert organizations that have categorically opposed and discredited corporal punishment. They include the National Education Association, American Bar Association, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, and national associations for both elementary and secondary school principals. The study report also lists nearly 100 published research citations and references. While there are thousands of research reports worldwide that conclude corporal punishment should be banned, not one exists in favour of the evil, ignorant, archaic practice… but to our shame it continues.

If children are the future of the nation, as undoubtedly they are, it doesn’t make a scrap of sense to damage them. They are the foundation of ALL our tomorrows. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that a poor foundation is a disaster waiting to happen.

The damaged children of today are the malfunctioning adults of tomorrow and everyone, without exception, suffers the consequences. Ask yourself what God-fearing, balanced minded person would throw a bomb into a busload of ordinary everyday innocent people and you’ll agree urgent change is needed.

It’s time to defuse the volcanic mind-set of ignorance, violence, wilful damage, and mindless aggression that erupts during hartals. Begin by removing the lessons taught by ignorant ‘teachers’ through corporal punishment in the classrooms.

A school should be a place of fun and positive learning and not a distribution outlet of emotional, physical, and psychological damage. A place where the children feel safe and secure and their development is foremost in the minds of all and not a camouflaged dungeon of torture, cruelty, and fear where their God-given spirit becomes the first casualty.

Gagnon, Brianna Kennedy-Lewis and Sungur Gurel (a doctoral student and statistician) spent eight months researching and writing their findings and recommendations. Lawyer Tania Galloni said the emotional and psychological damage done to a child is reason enough to end corporal punishment.

The ‘once upon a time…’ (there was corporal punishment in our schools), is deeply etched in Bangladesh history and cannot be erased; but if we act now and abolish corporal punishment we can begin to write the

cheerful, beneficial ending … “and everyone lived happily ever after”.

(The writer is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, human rights activist, a royal goodwill ambassador, and recipient of a Certificate of Appreciation from the Freedom Fighters of Bangladesh.)

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