Let’s get serious for a moment or two.
It’s time we had a little chat – tea and cake are optional, but be warned you’ll find no sugar here. If you are a parent, schoolteacher or headmaster this is especially addressed to you.
The subject we’re going to talk about is corporal punishment in schools – the pros and cons, the rights and wrongs – and how it can affect an individual, you and me, a community, an entire nation – parents and non-parents alike.
Is it right that alleged ‘peaceful demonstrators’ (often friendly next door neighbours) take to the streets with machetes, guns, knives, bamboo sticks, bombs and other crude weapons to beat-in to their opponents their rigid political viewpoint?
Is it right the opponents’ reply in similar language of seething hate and aggression in support of their queen? Of course, not! – It’s despicable, shameful and taints Bangladesh and its good people. There is no honour in violence, only shame, disgust, regret and some ‘God will get you’ retorts.
Were Bangladeshi children born violent or is it a learned trait?
In every child there are the makings of a saint. They come in kit-form and its up to the parents, schoolteachers and society in general to assemble them properly together, however painstakingly slow, tedious, and hair-pulling that might be.
From time to time many, if not most times, children drive parents up the wall – that’s their nature. It’s how far up they’re driven is the greater concern! Every parent knows the prayer, ‘Almighty Allah, give me strength’ and many get to say it often throughout the day.
Gift from God
If, as most parents believe and say, that every child is a gift from God, why do they – or allow ‘teachers’ – to mistreat them? One wouldn’t mistreat an heirloom or some other valuable possession, so why maltreat something as precious as a child from Allah?
I’m of the belief that every child is only on a ‘lifetime loan’ from the Almighty. Parents don’t ‘own’ them, state doesn’t own them – nobody owns them. And one of God’s prime purposes of every child is to test the parents.... to test how they handle or mishandle their Heavenly gift.
One of the worst sights in the world is to witness ignorance in action. From ignorance one can only learn ignorance and that takes us back to the all-engrossing machete carrying, bamboo toting, street-marching ‘peaceful’ terrorists who shamelessly haunt the streets like ghouls in search of prey.
Let’s face facts, corporal punishment in schools is the scourge and cancer in modern society. The disgraceful, shocking scenes we’re witnessing in the streets now are the seeds that were sown in schools and homes decades ago through corporal punishment and ‘child mismanagement’.
Corporal punishment by its very essence teaches unadulterated violence. It doesn’t teach what`s right from wrong or in any way discipline a child, but promotes violence as an immediate and appropriate response to problems. Why spend valuable time arguing, discussing and disagreeing when a few whacks of a bamboo across the head can bring the disagreement to a quick close?
Never forget, the influence of a teacher on a child is enormous. They’re the parents children have when they’re not at home. Children are like human video recorders that capture everything they see and hear without question. They’re taught from a very early age not to question or argue, but “do what you are told”.
It’s been three years this month (January 13) since eminent Bangladesh High Court justices Md. Imman Ali and Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed the barbaric practice of corporal punishment in schools declaring it "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child`s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom".
Triumph of evil
While it is no longer lawful or acceptable for a teacher to strike, verbally abuse, discriminate against or threaten any child – verbally or physically – in some Bangladesh schools the shame continues. While you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, the teaching fraternity needs to self-regulate, recognize they’re all being tainted – individually and collectively – by the unlawful, inhuman, horrific actions of a few and they need to cut out the cancer that ails their growth of respect. ("The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Irish statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797).
No evidence exists anywhere in the world that shows corporal punishment is good for a child, but there are thousands of studies that show the exact opposite.
Hartals, as we know them, are no more than meeting points and playing fields of thugs, terrorists, goons, loonies, miscreants, the misled and disillusioned (paid and unpaid). They no longer serve a noble, practical and worthwhile purpose, but shamefully bring death, grief and destruction to the innocent and children, outrageously, are not exempted. The mild-manner good neighbour who spent most of his life suppressing the anger, hate and vengeance he had beaten-in at school blows his cork and transforms from a Dr. Jekyll to a Mr Hyde and mayhem becomes his toy in the streets. As ye sow, so shall yet reap.
Such deplorable scenes will be part of the Bangladesh tapestry for many years to come, unless Bangladesh stops the rot now at its source... in the schools. To help eliminate violence in Bangladeshi society, offenders should not be paid to teach it in the classrooms.
Schools need to be totally free of all forms of corporal punishment, to be a place for children to go, enjoy, make friends, learn all that will benefit them and society and not continue to be the terrorists training camps some are today.
Then, God willing, the aggression that’s prevalent here will evaporate into thin air and Bangladesh will cease to be a breeding ground for a terrorist mob culture.
(The writer, Sir Frank Peters, is a human rights advocate, an award-winning writer, a former newspaper publisher and editor and a loyal foreign friend of Bangladesh.)
BDST: 1715 HRS, JAN 05, 2014