Happy Children, Healthy Children Corporal Punishment
Children do not care how much you know… Until they know how much you care…
Corporal Punishment What is Corporal Punishment ‘Corporal’ or ‘Physical’ punishment is any punishment in which physical force is used with intention to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. Some of the ways in which this is done is by spanking, pinching, tweaking the ear, pushing, kicking or hitting with an object etc.
It is supposedly used with the aim to prevent, reduce, or stop the recurrence of a behavior that is perceived as inappropriate or inconsistent with the expectations of an adult/s. Most adults see physically punishing children as normal and acceptable in all settings – whether in the family, in the home or school. We even often consider it evidence of ‘caring’ for children and as necessary for children to grow up to be competent and responsible individuals. The justification of corporal punishment is so overwhelming that even children don’t consider it as a violation of their rights and even if the punishment hurts, the child does not feel it is important enough to report the incident.
What does it teach children? That violence is an appropriate and acceptable method for resolving conflict and there can be no room for dialogue and negotiation. As a result children either totally comply with rules or defy them. That love is linked to violence in the same way that authority is sometimes linked to violence and legitimatize it as a natural & essential part of relationships. It also conveys the message that the stronger always wins over the weaker. That being a victim is a natural condition. It teaches that behavior is either good or bad. It does not give any space for the complex group of feelings that lie between. It promotes a negative view of other people and paints society as a threatening place.
What effect does it have on the behavior of the child? Corporal punishment can leave a child feeling hurt, resentful, frightened, guilty, humiliated, lonely and abandoned so that the behavior that the adult wishes to correct gets worse. It creates barriers that impedes communication and damages the emotional links between the Sneh sathi and child. Children do not grow well when they are distracted by such negative feelings.
In such a situation:
It may stimulate anger and a desire to run away. It may stimulate feelings of vengeance.
In some children it stimulates obstinacy. It may result in tantrums and misplaced bursts of anger.
It may lead to self harm. It may lead to peer bullying.
It may result in withdrawal from activities. It may result in poor school performance and even dropout. It results in low self worth.
Remember: Children are physically delicate. Even minor acts of corporal punishment can result in accidental physical injuries. When someone hits a child, the situation can get out of hand and result in more harm than expected. Even â€œharmless slapsâ€? can rupture eardrums, cause fractures, brain damage, other serious injuries or even death. Aggression breeds aggression. Children subjected to physical punishment have been shown to be more likely than others to be aggressive to siblings; to bully other children at school; to take part in aggressively anti-social behavior in adolescence; to be violent to their spouses and their own children and to commit violent crimes.
Many adults inflict punishments as an outlet for their suppressed feelings. Adults who hit out in temper get angrier and stressed at not getting the expected behavior change and as a consequence, the violence gradually becomes more frequent and severe with time. A little smack becomes a spanking and then a beating. This progression testifies to its ineffectiveness.
Violence and care/protection do not go together. Many children in the rainbow home are those who were abandoned or escaped from violent households. In the name of care we cannot subject them to violence again. Physical punishments do not provide an understanding of the appropriate or alternative behavior to a child. Since it does not provide space for dialogue , reflection, or use of reasoning, it hampers the capacity to understand the relationship between behavior and its consequences. It interferes with the learning process and with the childâ€™s intellectual, sensory and emotional development. It diminishes a child's capacity to grow up as an autonomous and responsible person. Even when intended for development of the child, hurting a child amounts to violence. Violence against children is a violation of human rights as it breaches their most fundamental right to respect, human dignity and integrity.
We as adults usually hit children perhaps because many of us were hit as children. However, times change and social attitudes and culture change with them. The concepts of “reasonable chastisement” or “lawful correction” have been abandoned. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has replaced the concept of parents’ rights with “Parental Responsibilities” Corporal punishment is legally banned. The RTE Act and JJ Act and the UNCHR, to which India is a signatory, have made the punishment of children a criminal offense with legal consequences.
Article 19 of the CRC requires States to protect children from “all forms of physical or mental violence”. Corporal punishment in schools is prohibited in nearly half of the world’s countries. In the past 20 years, eighteen countries have enacted laws prohibiting corporal punishment in all settings, namely in the home, in schools, alternative care and in the judicial system.
How can behavior modification be brought about? There is no scientific evidence to support that corporal punishment is an effective behavior modification technique. Discipline is meant to teach the difference between right and wrong, not to cause injury. There is no need to inflict pain to discipline a child. There are other forms of discipline which are non-violent and effective. You will find a description of such methods in other booklets of this series.
Care is the backbone of our relationship with children and we have recognized that their emotional well-being is central to it. This booklet is a part of a series that will inform us about how we can extend the best care to the children so that they can heal their traumas, attain stability & rediscover themselves, evolve and flourish. Let us discover the joy of working with childrenâ€Ś