Corporal punishment across nations

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Uses of corporal punishment by parents and teachers since centuries have made it a social practice. There are many long and short-term effects of corporal punishment on the life and behavior of a child. The paper presents the current status of corporal punishment and presents its implications. The proponents of corporal punishment say, it is necessary for the treatment of inappropriate behaviour and promoting appropriate behavior. Impact of corporal punishment was reflected through some studies conducted on students who had experienced corporal punishment. It was found through the arguments and views of various educationalists that corporal punishments can damage, physical and mental health, destroy the learning and education of child and create anxiety and antisocial behavior. The paper asserts that corporal punishment may be eradicated or decreased by using scientific approaches, thus present research proposes a number of scientific methods to minimize the use of corporal punishment.


Corporal punishment is a disciple method in which a supervising adult deliberately inflicts pain upon a child in respect to a child's inappropriate behavior and /or inappropriate language. (Abrahim. A 2002). Corporal punishment is almost present in all the nations of the world. Some societies use severe methods of corporal punishment like, hitting, kicking, canning, and some societies use mild ways of corporal punishment like spanking. It has been reported by a number of researchers that corporal punishment is present in third world countries with more severity. Those parents and teachers use corporal punishment regularly who suffers from state of depression, anxiety, aggression, overburden and poverty. There are contradicting opinions on the severity and effectiveness of corporal punishment. A large amount of research is being conducted to bring about the actual position of effects of corporal punishment on body and mind of children, however A large number of scientific research reveals that corporal punishment have many negative effects on the human body and mind and in some cases those effects disturb and upset the whole life and career of the child. Among those long and short term effects. Injuries, angers, anxieties, depression, and antisocial behavior are some which reduce their self-esteem; confidence, and skills for social interaction (Harris 1998). A large amount of evidence claim that Corporal punishment also lead to child abuse and those children who are regular victims of this kind of treatment commit social crimes in their future life.

Defining Corporal Punishment


Corporal punishment is a Latin word means body. The term refers to the use of physical and mental punishment to bring desired changes in the behavior of children. Different authors have defined corporal punishment in different ways. Encyclopedia Britannica has defined corporal punishment as "the punishment on the body of a child for commencement of any crime". According to (Cohen1984), "Corporal punishment is the name of treatment in which pain is intentionally inflicted on the body of an individual to prevent him from committing crime". According to Hyman, (1997) corporal punishment is a purposeful indication of pain on the human body as penalty for an offence. In other words, it is the punishment in which physical force is used with an intention to cause pain and unrest, however light. It is one kind of punishment or other in which pain; injury or anxiety is brought down on body or mind of an individual.




Arguments in Favor of Corporal Punishment


The society or individuals use corporal punishment as a legitimate means to achieve the desirable objectives from physically weaker members of the society i.e. females, pupils and children. The teachers and parents believe it as an easy and cheap weapon to correct the behavior of their children. . It has its roots in the society and is used since centuries; therefore many proverbs came into practice also: Some of them are:


"If you want to save a child and teach him in better way you should beat him with a rod".


In the same way parents used to say to teachers in urdu language, " Ghosht Tumhara Hadi Hamari" ( Flesh is your, bone is ours)


One parent justified corporal punishment: - I use the same treatment that was used on me by my parents. They did it and nothing happened and I am using the same (Save the Children, 2001)


The majority of the people are of the view that corporal punishment is imposed on children at homes and schools for infusing some values in them. It is general concept that children at home and school should learn some good habits at childhood age and for the same reason corporal punishment is the final end. The propagators of this notion say that positive values are essential to make a child useful for the society in which he lives.


Justifying corporal Punishment a Pakistani Head Teacher said, "Those teachers who inflict punishment remain in command. It is better for morale of teachers" (UNICEF 1999)


A British teacher said more crudely that sending a teacher in the class without permission of corporal punishment means we have send him into the ring with one hand". (Chenoweth, T,; Just, H.200).


It is generally accepted that corporal punishment is brought down to the students to punish unsatisfactory behavior in the class such as, rudeness, graffiti, fighting, stealing, drug use, copying notes from other students and many others.


A group of students from Ethiopia alleged that…

If any child in the classroom was found with inappropriate behavior like stealing, fighting or leaving class without permission, he should be tied and beaten by the teachers. If he continues the same practice then his fingers should be burnt. (Lao Youth Union1998)


A large number of students are punished at schools for academic reasons. Teachers and school heads punish their students for coming late at school, having dirty or torn dresses, not having proper books or supplies, not answering questions in the classroom or leaving school without permission. Additionally at many instances students are beaten and expelled from school for not deposing fees.


Positions in examinations and ranks in the classrooms are also a reason of corporal punishment. Children at home and school are subjected to punishment to obtain good grades and higher ranks in the examinations. "low performance in the examination, not reading at home and not finishing homework at home are some causes of corporal punishment" Tamrakar and (Misra1995).


Girl students from Bangladesh said that they were hurt because their teachers used to say that if they would not get good marks in the examinations their hands will be cut off: Ruby Noble 1997


In addition to above mentioned reasons of corporal punishment many a times corporal punishment is inflicted without any reason or their are lot of occasions corporal punishment is inflicted and child don't know why he is being beaten. Generally in these kind of situations, children are battered by fault of their patents and teachers. Some reasons of this kind of corporal punishment are stress, frustration, drug addiction, mental illness, overburden and low salaries of teachers and parents who release their stress, frustration and inadequacy on children. " lower standards of teachers in the society because of their low salaries are also a reason of frequent use of corporal punishment in the schools. Some teachers use other means to maximizes their income and due to this not give much attention to the students. These teachers remain in complex because society does not recognize them and in the result they use corporal punishment frequently.. (Human Rights Watch, 1999) In a study in Hongkong, it was found that parents who remain in contineous state of anxiety and stress can not treat their children easily. (Human Rights Watch, 1999)


In another study it was found that mothers with symptoms of anxiety and depression had used more physical discipline on their children. In many instances they used the same on young children also. (Human Rights Watch, 1999.)





Effects of Corporal Punishment


Large amount of evidence suggest that corporal punishment affect the children in a number of ways. Those children who are the regular victims of corporal punishment do not possess sound body or mind and they develop many types of negative and anti social behaviors that cause damage to their physical, mental health, and education. The injuries and insults caused by corporal punishment are not removed easily, but they live with the victims for all their lives.




Physical Injuries


Some of the immediate effects of corporal punishment are pains, cuts, burns, bruises and wounds. These are the common results of corporal punishment which many children face every day at home and school. More severe kind of punishments cause, bone damges, hearing losses, broken teethes and many kinds of internal injuries, which lead to a number of, body ailments



Evidence from different cultures shows their own way and its severity of inflicting pain and anxiety on the body and mind of different children. In a study in Pakistan it was found that children are severely beaten in the schools. This punishment casuse many ingeries to the pupils like broken limbs, knocked teeth and head injuries. (.Unicef Pakistan, 1999)


In a study of effects of corporal punishment in Pakistan, Fida and Ishtiaq narrated their view about the severity of corporal punishment in Pakistan as under:


Fida said that one day my father slapped on my face because I had not completed my homework. I was failed on the ground and bleeding started from my ears. (Save the Children, 2001)


Ishtiaq, said that his father hanged him on the roof because he had played cricket without permission. He further said that I was told that I will be cicked out if I had tried to play cricket again" (Save the Children, 2001)





The position is worst in Kenian schools, students had blamed that they were beaten with long canes with thorns.It was also said that teachers had hit them more sevierly if they (students)cried. (Human Rights Watch, 1999)


Talking on severity of corporal punishment one boy from Cameroon reported," in my class teacher had slapped on the head of a girls so vigorously that her all mouth was filled with blood. (Human rights watch 2000)




The mildest forms of corporal punishment are harmful for children and are unacceptable for them," little slaps have dangerous effects on the body and mind of children when they are little and tender".(save the children 2001). In response to a question asked from young children in England the answer came that little blow from a parent or teacher is often unbearable and it feels like a punch of boxer. It is painful like someone is breaking bones wih a hammer.." (Carolyne Willow and Tina Hyder 1998)




Psychological Disorders



Cuts, bruises and wounds are not the final effects of corporal punishment on human body. These are not only byproducts of corporal punishment. Additionally, corporal punishment affects child's mental health, his thoughts, feelings and emotions. Many a times he look helplessly towards his parents and teachers that why he is beaten so severely? This state of distress starts the feelings of fear, anxiety, humiliation and depression. He began to hate his parents and teachers. Feelings of anger and revenge begins in his mind and he learns anti social behavior. M. A. Straus 2000 concluded from some of his findings that corporal punishment increases the social complications in children. He pointed out that this practice increase the level of physical violence and depression.




Physical abuse may reduce a child's sense of worth and increased vulnerability to depression. Physical punishment can produce feelings of abasement, low confidence and lowered self-esteem. Continuous physical abuse may reduce a child's sense of worth. P. Greven has very effectively expressed the relationship between stress and corporal punishment in following words.

"Depression is a result of the negligence and use of power on the child in the early childhood. It is the result of repeatedly victimization and harassment of child by the parents and society" P. Greven, (1991)


The serious situations are those in which children lean that punishment is the only mean to change the behavior of an individual. It is known from social learning theory that violence is a learned behavior (Bandura, 1977). This supports the main argument of almost every claim against use of corporal punishment. Those children who are victims of this kind of punishment apply it to the weaker children of home and school and become habitual of violence. The child learn that it is sometimes acceptable, even necessary, to give pain to control others (Mccord, 1996).


Children learn by asking and exploring. Their mind continuously remains in process of thinking and doing something new. Due to this habit a child become intelligent, quick-witted, creative and explorer. Those children who are continuous victims of beatings don't ask many questions and loose their habit of exploration and become silent, shy, introvert and idle. This silence and introvert ness become their habit and those students don't like talk or engage in discussions in schools and even in public.



McMillan at al also studied the relationship between corporal punishment and psychiatric disorders in 1999. A sample of 9,953 participants of the Ontario Health Supplement were asked questions of about being "hit" or "slapped" during childhood. A subgroup of 4,888 of these participants reported never been hit and were used to compare the relationship of corporal punishment and four kinds of psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric evolutions were given to everyone in the study and found that those who experienced the most corporal punishment had the highest rates of anxiety and addictive disorders that those who were never spanked. corporal punishment. Chenoweth, T,; Just, H.(200)


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, corporal punishment lessen the self-esteem and confidence of school children. It minimizes achievement of the children in examinations and may increase feeling of anger, fight and violent behavior. (AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS 2000)



Damage to Education


Since centuries it is a belief that corporal punishment is necessary to the children for learning. The educational psychology has proved that learning does not take place forcefully. The social scientists say that learning can take place when learner is motivated for that learning.

Light and rare corporal punishment is also dangerous for children. They feel fear and anxiety in the classrooms; they don't like their teachers to do this. In fear they cannot communicate with their teachers and leave their classes in many cases. ." (Unicef/EMIDA 2000)


Children learn through exploring, and questioning. They want an atmosphere of love and confidence. When teachers try to maintain strict discipline measures in the class' students remain in continuous state of fear and anxiety and their learning remain no more.



Corporal Punishment not only creates negative behavior but destroy the education of children also. Those children who are continuous victims of this punishment at schools hate their teachers and books and quit to go schools.


" I left school not for pain which inflicted on me by my teacher but the sense of humiliation which I felt. My classmates teased me and laughed on me ant that was the last day of my school" (Radda Barnen, 1998)


It is reported repeatedly that many students transfer schools due to the harsh behavior of teachers and severe punishments. Many a times students leave their schools due to this reason. (save the children 2001)


Large amount of evidence suggest that teachers are not loved and books are not understood in those schools, which use corporal punishment frequently, such schools does not produce competent students with positive behavior. There is more drop-out ratio of students from these schools which use strict standards of discipline." The dropout ration of those schools is high which use corporal punishment to maintain discipline. ."(UK Department of Education, 1989)



In a study in Bangladesh a group of students were asked to give their opinion about the school. Some students said that they are better for they are not going to school. Other students said that we have heard that there is much punishment in the schools therefore they cannot think to go to the school. A group of students said that we prefer to go to the work ...." (Ruby Noble 1997)

A study conducted in Pakistan reveals that corporal punishment is the major problem of this society. A large number of students flee from schools due to harsh behaviors and severe punishments by teachers. According to that study, 70 reports of serious injury arising from corporal punishment were received.(UNICEF 1999 ) The use of corporal punishment in some of its most serious forms is practiced in many religious educational institutions, the Madarsas, where mostly children from poor families are housed and educated. Government schools, which are characterized by low quality education and untrained teachers, are also known for this practice, which in most cases puts an effective stop to the learning process of many children (SPARC,2003).





Scientific Approaches to Control Corporal Punishment



Provide parents and teachers with knowledge of child' drives, attitudes, habits, traits and needs through booklets-seminars, workshops and radio recordings.


Behave gently and kindly with students at school and children at home to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence.


Motivate students at home and school before assigning some task and/or activity.



Provide children at home with necessary help and guidance. At least some time should be given to children for discussion about their problems at schools, their assignments and homework etc.


Ignore and overlook little negligence or slip of tongue if these lapses are of less harm.



Respect and appreciate them when they fulfill some tasks or when they try to accomplish the tasks earlier.


Keep the size of classroom at minimum and provide individual attention to each child.



Use methods of teaching according to the mental level and mental capabilities of the children.


Furnish schools with flags and paintings and decorate classrooms and walls with graphs, charts and pictures; bare classroom and unfinished schools give awful and strange look.



Assign responsibility for decision making to children by giving them various roles to play. Give them responsibility to manage schools or classroom for some hours or for a complete day.


Avoid testing and grading systems in schools particularly in primary grades that they create stress, anxiety and decrease self esteem at early stage.



Arrange for them co-curricular activities, including dramas, quizzes, field trips, puppet shows that students learn better values and good lessons.


Arrange for them drams and movies related to religion and cultural values of the society in which they live.


Provide parents with information on child habits, child drives and on various child needs through teacher workshops, and radio programs.



Organize sports and games regularly to encourage acceptable behavior and sportsmanship spirit.


Arrange for proper guidance and counseling personnel to guide pupils at school properly.


Ensure parent's participation in school activities and education of their children.