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Should corporal punishment be banned?

In my opinion the law should be changed to allow ALL children to be physically punished both at home and at school. BRING BACK NATIONAL SERVICE that'll sort out the little yobs.
Dr. Kris, UK

Hands off the kids. Understand them and talk to them.
Mark Thompson, England

Background ¦ Your reaction

The Background:

A recent report by the New York based organisation, Human Rights Watch, says children in Kenyan schools are subjected to regular physical abuse by their teachers even for minor offences.

News and Information for Africa
The report says some children have even died from beatings and laws governing the use of corporal punishment in schools are often ignored.

Corporal punishment is legal in Kenya but only head teachers are allowed to beat pupils.

But Assistant Secretary-General of the Kenya Teachers Union, Mr Francis Nganga, has told the BBC that the findings of the report grossly exaggerate the situation.

Meanwhile in South Africa, where corporal punishment is illegal, Education Minister Kader Asmal last week announced that the government is taking legal action against four teachers at a school in Mitchell's Plain, Cape Town. They have refused to stop using beatings as a form of discipline in the classroom.

Some South African teachers are refusing to obey the law as they think corporal punishment is an effective means of disciplining pupils.

Their critics say it is barbaric practice, which does not in itself turn mischievous children into angels.

What do you think? Is there such a thing as a ''good beating''? Or can corporal punishment actually make bad pupils worse? Should it be banned everywhere? Or is it a ''necessary evil'' in the classroom?

Background ¦ Your reaction

Your Reaction:

Corporal punishment does not teach right from wrong, it teaches fear and hate. Unfortunately this is an cheap and easy way to keep people in line. Education and love are the constructive way to teach self discipline, respect and morality, but these require effort and patience.
C Rhode, UK

Physical punishment is morally justified, although the key words remain " for unreasonable behaviour", " in extreme circumstances", "within reason" and "as a last resort". Education has two basic aims. The first aim is to prepare pupils emotionally and academically for the labour market, and the second aim is to develop the personality of the child. The teacher has to know his subject, the underlying principles of the subject, and the relationship of the subject with other subjects. The teacher should also have a good knowledge of teaching methodology-i.e. question/ answer methods or group work, and when to apply the appropriate methods. Teaching remains a child centred activity. Teachers should also establish a good working relationship with pupils. Pupils should have a clear idea of what is expected of them, and they should know what the rules of the class are. A Teacher should talk to pupils who misbehave first, and if this fails, then only should physical punishment be applied. Caning should never hide the inability of the teacher to handle his pupil's discipline. It is not a smoke screen for incompetent teachers
T H Bowmer, South Africa

Children are just young but not stupid, they need reasons to know what they do is wrong, not violence, else you will have just afraid adults and not aware ones.
Alejandra Moreno, Mexico

It is easy to raise a hand upon a helpless child, but it is more challenging to stop one self and use kind words. That goes much farther than violence.
Lemlem Tibebu, USA

From my experiences in an Ethiopian public school which I went to for kindergarten and 1st grade, I have witnessed some of the sickest and most sadistic teachers. I myself never got beat, with the exception of one incident, when someone stole my homework. Yet I've seen the teachers beat some child senseless using the leather whips that are commonly reserved for horses.
If you're smart, you wear two pants and 2 long-sleeve shirts. I remember my Quran teacher who, upon entering the room, would hit me and some other students for no reason at all. I believe that the policing of those who hand out the punishment is too lax, because in most of the cases that I've witnessed, it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
Nevertheless, coming to America made me realise what happens if you do not grow up in such an environment. I went to middle and high school here and found the amount of disrespect the kids had for their parents, teachers, and fellow human beings appalling.
Khalid Hassen, 18, U.S.A.

Some degree of corporal punishment is possibly justified in exceptional circumstances - such as when a child is deliberately cruel to another child or animal. However, there are good arguments against all corporal punishment and you have to respect other people's opinions.
After all, if Sergeant Majors in the army can discipline grown men without hitting them, why can't we discipline children without hitting them? Perhaps it's all to do with methodology and some sort of justification of our parents' methods of disciplining us!!!!
Derek Dunn, Manchester, UK

Corporate Punishment is a good thing in moderation. There is no respect these days, kids don't give a damn about authority, and the parents are too soft after their stint in the 60s "loveboat". Get Tougher, Get Harder, teach this kids to be survivors and pioneers rather than lawless, jobless nobodies.
Ben Ashley, UK

All people deserve the right to be free from violence
Emma Eustace, Canada

Growing up is a learning curve and although many people are uncomfortable with the fact that humans are part of the animal kingdom, the similarities remain. I believe as a former high school technician that an element of learning has been lost. Children no longer discover the limits to which behaviour can be tolerated. Worse than that they have no appreciation of the fact that some actions are downright dangerous. Amongst other mammals chastisement is a means by which a youngster learns the boundaries. Remove that and you have youngsters that are care-free and probably can expect a short life-span. Hence such dangerous activities as joy-riding are greater now or at least fatalities through this seem to be greater.
Ian Peters, UK

Corporal punishment is the lazy way out for a teacher, and has very little effect. I went to a school where one of the teachers enjoyed caning and used to find someone transgressing the rules every two weeks or so. He would offer them the choice of being caned, or spending two hours writing an essay about wood. In the five years I was at the school, no-one ever selected the wood essay option. Instead we would take the cane and then swagger up to our mates "Didn't hurt a bit". This demonstrates the total futility of punishing children via a method that gives them 'street cred' in the eyes of their peers. Boredom is the killer punishment for any child I've ever met.
Simon Bayliss, England

The rise and rise of thugs in this country, some as young as 6 years old, proves that old adage about sparing the rod. However what has been going on in Kenya is assault and the perpetrators should be arrested forthwith.
William Anchor, UK

I was caned at school and all I learned was to distrust the arbitrary actions of the authorities.
Felix Morrow, South Africa

Please, don't teach the children by hitting them! That won't do any good.
Lukinmaa, Finland

Corporal punishment works; Child abuse should be treated as just that and the offender punished.
John C, UK

We are equating corporal punishment to child abuse and this sets our let-everyone-be western sentiments off. I never liked any moment that my teachers disciplined me, but I can't think of worse than if they had never instilled a sense of acceptable/unacceptable in me in the only way they saw fit. I do not endorse violence by this, but then neither do I advocate for an amoral future...morality isn't that big an idea in these parts, but that explains why no one looks forward to having their 17 year old longer than they must, while in the east this is not the case. The fruits of our negligence or abuse of our children are reaped in our lifetime, how about we find a compromise?
Kemunto Bosire, US/Kenya

I'm all for corporal punishment. I'm an African living in the U.S. and I see too many little brats running about like they rule the whole world. I see too many mothers putting their kids on medication just to be able to get through the day. I see too many teachers pushing parents to put their kids on medication so that they can handle them in their classes. It's time to do some serious parenting and stop this "talking to your kids" nonsense.
Tigist, US

A combination of both would be perfect, talking and applying corporal punishment at the sametime. Examples are plenty where either if applied excessively we have seen the consequences. Think of it as Carrot/Stick approach. It helps to let kids know if they fail to heed warnings there are consequences. It's a good thing to let them know why you had to result to corporal punishment before administering it and that ensuring they are fully aware of your expectations of them as parent or a teacher. Chances are they wont repeat it next time around
John , USA

I was caned many times in girlhood and I personally think that it was beneficial to my discipline
Victoria Chan, Canada

I believe the idea behind corporal punishment is correct. Children need to learn discipline and obedience. But some of the punishments handed out are truly cruel. I have witnessed and on occasion been disciplined when I was in primary school.
Some teachers place 30cm rulers between your fingers (one above, one below, one above..) the ruler. Then they get a blackboard duster and smack the top of the wrist. It is painful. I believe such horrific punishments are not acceptable. The law states that a pupil can receive corporal punishment from the headteacher only, and that too in the presence of another teacher and another pupil. I do believe these guidelines can be effective but need to be adhered to.
Khilan Shah, Kenyan living in UK

In my opinion the law should be changed to allow ALL children to be physically punished both at home and at school. In addition to this children over the age of 7 should be made accountable for their actions and the parents of younger children should be made to pay for their off springs crimes. BRING BACK NATIONAL SERVICE that'll sort out the little yobs.
Dr. Kris, UK

No one should EVER hit my children but me. As it happens I would NEVER hit my own children. Words can not explain how detrimental 'sound thrashings' could be to a child, least of all because it hinders their learning and education.
Wendy, UK

It always strikes me that the most brutal people are generally the ones who were most brutalised when they were younger. I believe that it is ignorant to think that the way to teach people right from wrong is by physically beating them. Good parenting and better education is the way to a civilised society. I was belted only once at school for swearing. Other than the fact that I swear like a *&^%$$% trooper I'm a perfectly civilised human being. Hands off the kids. Understand them and talk to them.
Mark Thompson, England

I think this is important for the discipline of the kids, so I support it.
Lucy Gathuri, Kenya

When I was at school (in SE London), the cane was an instrument that was much feared and undoubtedly contributed to keeping most of us in line. But canings were not a frequent occurrence ... indeed, they were quite rare ... but the FEAR of it was often enough. But when it did occur it was on the hands (and hurt like crazy), was never more than 6 strokes, and was more to do with inflicting humiliation than bodily injury. Although it was done in the privacy of the Deputy Head's office, everyone knew you were in there and why. Obviously, this is very different from "corporal" punishment as most understand it, and I suggest it is an acceptable way to punish young boys (especially).
As an after thought, as a boy I recall on older man once saying to me "Little boys are like flies; every now and again they need swatting".
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

If the aim of education is to produce people with reasoning skills, doesn't the use of physical punishment undermine that aim?
Tom, Australia

People here are talking at cross purposes. The "antis" are assuming a definition of random indiscriminate beatings of small children by sadists just on a whim. The "pros" are referring to a smack on the hand or leg for very badly behaved youngsters, or the cane for teenagers who commit "serious" offences.
The entire teaching profession has been "castrated" in terms of discipline, this generation of parents are incompetent in educating their children in decent behaviour, and the judiciary are too outdated by excluding minors from real punishment. If no one teaches them right from wrong, and no one deters them with threat of real punishment what type of adults do people think we are going to breed?
Graeme, England

Corporal Punishment is barbaric and invasion of personal security and interference in law. No human has a right to impose his views on others.
B. Krishna M. Ramaraju, USA

I don't think punishment should be banned - especially when head/teachers have to deal with unruly and disrespectful children in our world today. However, they are not the problem here, it is the head/teachers that execute these type of punishments that should be removed. Discipline is needed in children but NOT to the extent that they are killed.
What I want to know is what force takes over these head/teachers to make them kill a child? To me, this is way passed the point of a person who calls themselves a head/teacher, and they are clearly in the wrong profession as it sounds like they enjoy giving punishment and that is more in the lines of severe child abuse. They need arresting
Jason, UK

When a child is bad they need to know that what they have done is not acceptable. Corporal punishment not only achieves this, but also acts as an example to other children that certain acts will result in a certain discomfort, that for every action there is a reaction.
However, corporal punishment can only work if it is administered fairly and adults must be put in a position where they cannot abuse it, therefore, corporal punishment cannot be fair nor would an adult be allowed to administer punishment on another adult in such a way. So we are left with a problem that children are unaccountable for their actions.
Daren, UK

I can't comment on corporal punishment as administered in Kenya. However, I was subject to corporal punishment in my first 'big' school and I haven't suffered any lasting damage. I also feel that sometimes the whole subject of to hit or not to hit a child can be taken too far. I have to feel for the parent struggling with a temper tantrum throwing child in a public place. Most parents would now not dare to hit their child in public for fear that they would be accused of abuse. When I was little a slap on the bum was sometimes the only discipline option left and I don't feel I suffered from it.
AJB, Australia (but British)

I agree entirely with Ricky from Kenya. Just look at what has happened where children are not subjected to discipline. I refer to the US in particular, although the behaviour of young people in the UK is little better. As the very wise saying goes "spare the rod and spoil the child".
Tony Hague, UK

It breaks my heart to see that we are even disputing the issue. Corporal punishment inflicts permanent psychological damage to a child. This damage encompasses many dimensions that I won't be able to describe in order to be brief.
This is a barbaric habit that parents and teachers alike in many cultures have always justified in the name of better disciplined children or pupils. This discipline (never guaranteed) comes at a huge price. Child advocates of course should never forgive the gross violation of the rights of a defenceless child.
Riaz Osmani, USA/Bangladesh

We should teach children as we expect them to behave when they reach adulthood. It is well known that children from violent home environments are prone to resort to violence to try and deal with their problems.
Ed Barnett, USA

It is just over thirty years ago that I was under parental care/school. In Africa, those are the two groups of people we owe obedience and respect at all times. Anything short of obedience and respect will be met by punishments which usually will be corporal. Because of the fear, some of us went through successfully thank God. Those who were held like eggs are today begging on the streets.
I owe my present situation to my teachers and parents who did not spare the rod when necessary and for my own good. In the western world, since there is too much pampering (sparing the rod), the use of the gun has been very frequent. This is worse than the cane. The rod has been spared and the child has been spoilt.
Henry Williams, Sierra Leone

Under any circumstances it should be eliminated from the world. No child should suffer physical punishment from anybody.
Monica Gitau, Germany

Yes, because this kind of punishment is being used for everything. Parents should be very wary. Here in our local school the principal uses a paddle with three holes down the centre and wrapped in electrical tape. He had gotten into trouble in the past for bruising a boy's kidneys. The last I checked kidneys are positioned higher then the behind. The parents of this young boy tried to take legal action but lost. Yes this man is still principal!!
Cheryl Harris, USA

That depends highly on what we term "physical punishment"... I mean come on, we all know there is a large difference between the small slap here and there or real beating. Of-course we should not be beating our children any more than we are allowed to beat any other human being. But discipline is very important and where other forms of punishment fail then a small slap (and I mean small) is sometimes helpful. All these ridiculous ideas about never disciplining children leads to much more serious problems for them in the future. Vandals, drug addicts, criminals etc... That's what today's wise societies are breeding... and illiterates too. Lets be honest, slapping a child is one thing, beating it is quite another.
Vivien Cooksley, Austria

Corporal punishment should be minimised but not eradicated. It only needs to be monitored so as to protect students from being hurt. In order to avoid grave consequences such as school massacres it's advisable to sharpen up their characters before adulthood. Better to build up a child than to repair a man.
Saiid Kamara, Sierra Leone/USA

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. People die in motor vehicle accidents. Are you going to ban motor vehicles? I wouldn't think so. You would train the drivers to drive with due regard to safety. Same goes for corporal punishment. Training! Deal with those who administer corporal punishment without due care for the recipient.
John Grainger-Smith, Australia

Define corporal punishment. Some people seem to think the beatings of the kids in Kenya are equivalent to the swats I got in grade school, which did me NO lasting physical or psychological harm. Let's get on the same page with this.
Rich Webster, US

Background ¦ Your reaction

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