Corporal punishment was outlawed in 2011, but it still prevails
Sir Frank Peters
IT IS amazing how un-hinged society can become if you don’t pay attention to the smaller details and address them appropriately.
Take for example violence in society. The majority of God-loving, God-fearing inhabitants of society (99.9 percent) detest and abhor violence. They’re all unanimous in thought that such barbaric actions could not possibly be good for the development of humankind or bring them closer to God.
Nobody in their right mind want to see his/her mother, his/her sister, or anyone they love being brutalised, hurt and in pain from a violent attack. It could be said, the 99.9 percent are totally against violence in any form to any one, and rightly so.
There is no doubt violence is ever present in society, look no further than the recent general elections. Where there’s ignorance, there will always be violence and while we may go short from time-to-time on essential supplies like vegetables and rice, there’s never a shortage of ignorance – there’s always enough to go around and it’s available everywhere. It’s even being openly taught in some schools and many alleged teachers excel in its teaching.
While there is no single study that categorically attributes violence to one specific area, there are literally thousands that points a chastising finger and pin points corporal punishment as being one of the major culprits. (Guilty, as charged, m’lord!)
Most people would agree corporal punishment cannot be blamed entirely for all the violence in society, but, no doubt, it is a major contributing factor. Let’s look at life momentarily through the eyes of a child.
We are all products of our environment. Our thinking is honed, our minds are developed and our learning begins from within that environment – good or bad. Monkey see, monkey do.
Poverty is not a child’s number one enemy; ignorance is.
Whatever the child sees and experiences is how things are… it’s the world they know. It’s natural to them, they know no better. If a home is predominantly violent, violence is as natural to them as the roti they eat at breakfast and that’s what they expect the outside world to be.
If there’s love in the homes, schools and madrashas that is also what they learn and expect the outside world to be. Violence and love cannot co-exist. Violence should never be given shelter.
A child’s mind is like a sponge and absolutely trusting. It will soak-in without much questioning (or none) what is presented to it, especially if encouraged by a figure of authority, parent or teacher. It knows no better. It has a child-like faith and trust that the authority figure knows what she/he is doing and wouldn’t mislead them. If only the latter were true.
Perhaps that’s not entirely the fault of the parent or teacher’s. A teacher or parent can only teach what they themselves know. It is a known fact that in Bangladesh, there is a lot of scope for improvement.
Having said that, there have been vast improvements over recent years in the education system and credit needs to be given where it is due.
While the qualifications and abilities of some people to teach may need to be questioned in the best interests of the children and the nation, there is no justification whatsoever for violence in the form of corporal punishment to be taught in the classrooms.
The two predominant areas in a child’s life to learn violence are in the home and in the school. While the home presents only a small selective audience and the violence is confined, perhaps, to only one child. The school is different. The audience is considerably larger, the influence is substantially greater and given time can spread, pollute and damage an entire community.
School is not a place where violence should be taught. No school should be a hellhole for any child (or teacher). A classroom is no place for bullies, sadists, mentally disturbed ‘teachers’ or where fear and violence is bred. Neither should it be a place where the once-in-a-lifetime gift of angelic youth, fun, and joy is beaten out, and the horrific blight of hatred, anger, despise for society, and hellish revenge, are beaten in.
Dr. Dharmakanta Kumbhakar, a pathologist, at the Tezpur Medical College, Tezpur, Assam, recently wrote: “Children are the supreme asset of a nation. They are the greatest hope for the future of a nation. Every nation, developed or developing, links its future with the status of their children.”
He then went on to say: “The future of a nation rests on healthy, protected, educated and well-developed children. They are the potential and useful human resources for the progress of a nation. Ignoring or neglecting the children means wasting the supreme national asset and loss to the nation as a whole.
“If children are deprived of their childhood—socially, economically, physically and mentally—the nation gets deprived of the potential human resources for social progress, economic empowerment, peace and order, social stability and good citizenry.”
To protect the supreme assets of Bangladesh; on January 13, 2011, High Court Divisional bench comprising of Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md. Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed corporal punishment in Bangladesh schools and madrasahs declaring it to be: “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.
While we can never eradicate violence in society totally, we can erase corporal punishment. It doesn’t help to have the fundamentals of violence taught in our schools to impressionable minds by ‘teachers’ paid from the nation’s taxes.
We can draw a line under the violence that exists today; write it off to ignorance of the past, make a fresh start, engage the necessary changes, eliminate the teaching of violence from the schools and madrashas and bequeath future generations with a worthy of their gratitude and pride.
[Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, a royal goodwill ambassador, a humanitarian and a respected foreign non-political friend of Bangladesh who has been honoured by Bangladesh Freedom Fighters. Three Bangladeshi babies have been named ‘Frank Peters’ in his honour.]