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Other alternatives to school licks


Other alternatives to school licks

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MR MATTHEW FARLEY started his article with the words “Spare the rod and spoil the child”, a quote inspired by Proverbs 13:24 which implies that the physical spanking of children is an acceptable form of punishment.

Corporal punishment in schools is rooted in long-standing cultural, religious and ethnic traditions. Despite the fact that research shows the long-term harm this practice does to children, he wants to know why we are “intent in following certain international conventions”.

The reason we follow certain international conventions is simply because when research shows a practice to be wrong and harmful, an informed society is supposed to take note and make the necessary adjustments – especially when such practices are wrapped in the banner of religious liberty or community standards.

Ample research has shown that corporal punishment signals to the child that a way to settle interpersonal conflicts is to use physical force and inflict pain. Such children may in turn resort to such behaviour themselves. They may also fail to develop trusting, secure relationships with adults and fail to evolve the necessary skills to settle disputes or wield authority in less violent ways. Teachers who wilfully humiliate children and punish by force and pain are often causing more harm than they prevent.

A study in 20 American cities, published in the American Academy of Paediatrics in 2013, found that young children who endure little or no spanking showed swifter cognitive development than their peers. Other studies find that children in physically punitive schools perform worse.

Why should we continue a practice handed down by our colonial masters, who themselves have since long abandoned it, when there are so many other methods of discipline that are effective in promoting self-control, eliminating undesirable behaviours and promoting desired behaviours in schoolchildren?

It is worth noting, moreover, that among the top 100 US schools ranked by Newsweek, not a single one is a corporate punishment school.