Thursday July 5, 2012
SPARE the rod and spoil the child is an old adage, the notion that children will only improve if physically chastised for any wrongdoing or fault.
I submit that this adage would not stand to present-day scrutiny.
Teachers may not be able to control the lashing of the students, leaving them with lifelong physical and mental scars.
Apart from the infliction of pain and suffering, caning, which is a violent disciplinary measure, will also ricochet on the student’s academic achievement and future development.
Caning transforms the benign school atmosphere into a hostile environment. Students are known to become introverted and tend to shy away from school after caning.
Students should look forward to school as a “fun” project and not to be tortured or humiliated.
Students with autism are seldom recognised as such and when they are struck, they can become overly aggressive, struggling to contain their anger.
Normal students are gripped by fear, depression and belligerence. They tend to disengage academically.
There is significant evidence that corporal punishment is detrimental to productive learning.
A recent study in the United States has shown that in schools where corporal punishment is the norm, students have performed worse academically than those in states that prohibit such punishment.
Hence, quite a number of states in the United States have done away with corporal punishment in schools. The Society for Adolescent Medicine has found that victims of corporal punishment often develop “deteriorating peer relationships, difficulty with concentration, lowered school achievement, anti-social behaviour, intense dislike of authority, somatic complaints, a tendency for school avoidance and school drop-out, and other negative high-risk adolescent behaviour”.
Corporal punishment affects every student in that school, including those who are not personally subjected to violence.
When physical violence against students becomes a norm, it creates an overall threatening school atmosphere that erodes students’ ability to perform academically.
Psychologists have noted that children who experience or witness physical violence will themselves develop disruptive and violent behaviour, further upsetting their classmates’ learning as well as their own.
Corporal punishment is a destructive form of discipline that is ineffective in producing educational advancement.
As a contrary approach, teachers should be encouraged to develop positive behaviour supports which have proven effective in reducing the need for harsh discipline.
Caning is degrading and humiliating. It should be prohibited.
Dr A. SOORIAN