Corporal punishment in Pakistan is considered a mandatory feature of the education process. Over the years many doctors and psychologists have presented various researches proving that corporal punishment affects children’s physical and mental capabilities adversely. Still, the findings appear to have not been taken seriously in this part of the world, as corporal punishment in Pakistan is as much a reality nowadays as it was 10 years ago.
Most parts of Europe clearly defined their ideas of child protection during the 1950s, with gradual updates on many issues making schools a safe place for children. After a bill against corporal punishment was passed by the UN in late 1980s, a majority of the West adapted the laws protecting children’s rights, abolishing corporal punishments across Europe.
While corporal punishment is considered an effective disciplinary measure, research has proven otherwise. Corporal punishment is associated with increased aggression, antisocial behaviour, lower intellectual achievement, poor quality of parent–child relationships, mental health problems and diminished moral internalization.
To decode how the West deals with corporal punishment, The Academia sat down with Cymone Wilson. Cymone is a graduate of History and Psychology and has a vast of experience of teaching in both developing countries like Jamaica, as well in the US and South Korea.
One of the very basic methodologies to curb and even end corporal punishment is to criminalise it and make the offender accountable for his or her deeds. That’s exactly what Cymone relates from her experience. “When I was in Jamaica, schools received a memo from the education ministry at the beginning of the school year that clearly outlined that corporal punishment of any sort was prohibited in Jamaica and anybody found guilty of violating the law would be tried for criminal charges,” she said.
Cymone said although Jamaica still had a few cases of corporal punishment being reported in rural areas, such punishment was hardly heard of in the US. Asked how the few incidents in Jamaica could be stopped, she said the education ministry needed to be extremely vigilant and effective to ensure that their rules were being followed. “In the US, principals are removed almost instantly if the law against corporal punishment is violated.”
But she agreed that the law sometimes conflicted with a certain school principal’s belief about punishment, in which case, the laws could be seen being flouted.
Discussing alternative methods, Cymone said, “As a Peace Corps volunteer from the US, we were trained about innovative tactics to discipline children. We were given reward charts to show there were other ways, like patiently understanding child psychology. Eventually the kids started listening to you. That is what makes the job of a teacher so difficult and respectful.”
While Cymone offers some clues about the cure to corporal punishment from her experience, simply making the act a crime would not end the problem. Training teachers about employing alternative, and more humane methods, to deal with disciplinary issues among students is the key to ending corporal punishment. Fear of being sacked or suspended from the job would not end teachers’ urge to straighten out children that are driving them insane with their antics. What would help teachers not take the violent routes would be a set of alternative skills that could be employed to discipline misbehaving children.
Until that happens here, corporal punishment in Pakistan would continue to exist, as teachers would never know that there are other means to maintain discipline than a good ol’ beating.