Treat with love and care; punishment negatively impacts children
Verbal, physical abuse and punishment should be banned in schools
By Amir Murtaza
According to newspapers of 19th May 2012, a little boy who was the student of sixth grade had committed suicide after being scolded by his school teacher over his absence from school, in Faisalabad. It is really tragic that the school headmaster didn’t listen to the request of eleven years old boy who even not received proper support from the family and therefore in sheer dejection set himself ablaze.
I saw the scenes of the funeral of Muhammad Umar on local TV channels, where family members and the area people were literally crying over his tragic death. I am really wondering that in a country where absence in government schools, colleges, offices, and even in parliament, is a routine matter then why an innocent 11 years old boy lost his life over a couple of days absent from school. It is certainly a bitter truth that every day in Pakistan a number of children suffer from verbal abuse at their homes and schools. And, adults without realizing their sensitive nature reprimand them on minor issues.
Advocate Ashraf Suleman observed that children have been amongst the most vulnerable sections of the South Asian society, including Pakistan, when it comes to physical or verbal abuse. He added that, “Children are highly dependent on adults for protection and care and they cannot resist against any type of abuse due to their week position and status.” The Karachi based advocate maintained that legislation on child protection may not produce positive impact until and unless the society should create enabling environment for future generation, especially at their homes and schools.
I met with a school teacher and asked about the prevalence of verbal and physical abuse in our schools. While responding, Bushra Ahmed observed that, “Verbal abuse is quite common in government schools and it is a fact that majority of our teachers are not sensitized about the negative effects of such abuse on little children.” She added that despite the serious effects of corporal punishment on children, the practice is quite prevalent in government schools, especially in rural parts of the country.
Huma Amaan, a psychologist, informed that verbal abuse forces the children to think like, “What is wrong with me” or “What the use of the life is when I am wrong all the time”. She added that such thinking leads to self-destructive and self-injurious behavior among children and added that the suicide of Muhammad Umar is a clear example of such behavior. Huma Amaan observed that mature and sensitized teachers as well as parents always avoid hurting innocent children.
According to an article, The Right to Dignity – A Human Rights Perspective, published in AIR Journals, “Every individual has certain rights bestowed by nature which are preserved, protected and promoted in this era of globalization in the name of human rights and human dignity. These rights have been proclaimed as fundamental rights and they are sacrosanct, inalienable and inviolable by nature. These rights are the prerogative of every human being without any discrimination. Right to dignity is such right which runs through all rights in various forms and configurations. In other words, right to dignity is the cornerstone of all basic rights and the reason of their meaning. Human rights make no sense without the element of dignity floating in them.”
Hurting and abusing children is absolutely a wrong behavior. I have no doubt that verbal, physical abuse and punishment can produce any positive effect on children’s behavior or personality. Even, numerous researches on children have revealed that punishment leads more harm to them. The very idea of introducing punishment to make children disciplined has become obsolete in modern world. It is quite clear that punishment should be substituted by innovative methods to discipline and teach the children. It is therefore necessary that school teachers, either in government or private, should have mandatory training about the rights and protection of children. Additionally, there is an immediate need to place total ban on all forms of abuse and punishment in schools-INFN