Unicef finds 43 types of punishment in schools

A study conducted by Unicef in three districts of the Frontier province has identified 43 types of punishment being given to students at schools and asked the government to ban corporal punishment. The study was carried out by Unicef in collaboration with Save the Children, Sweden, and the NWFP School and Literacy Department. About 3,582 children, 1,231 parents and 486 parents were interviewed during the exercise conducted in the districts of Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Hangu.

According to the study, students also faced 28 types of punishment at homes at the hands of parents and other members of their families.
In schools, they are subjected to corporal punishment by teachers, proctors, senior students, watchmen and maids.
Disobedience, use of abusive language, lack of interest in study or homework, quarrels and adults’ frustration were identified as the factors leading to corporal punishment.
The volume of corporal punishment in schools and homes was found to be identical.
The study showed that the situation regarding corporal punishment, both at private and public schools, was the same. A common phenomenon was that younger children at schools received more punishment than the older ones.
Two categories of punishment at schools were identified: one is physical and the other psychological.

Physical punishment includes smacking, spanking, kicking, throwing, pinching, pulling hair, twisting arms or ears, forcing the child to stay in uncomfortable or undignified position, forcing the child to take excessive exercise, burning, giving electric shock and hitting them with different objects such as cane, belt, whip, shoe, broom and electric wire.
The psychological punishment, found to be more humiliating and degrading, includes verbal abuse, ridicule, isolation and scaring. Such punishments leave children in a vicious cycle of frustration that haunts them for their entire lives.
The study said that the magnitude of sexual abuse was not so widespread. Sexual abuse is not used as punishment, but excessive corporal punishment or temptation with monetary or other favours is used to trap students into situations where they can be sexually abused.
The impact of the corporal punishment hampers a child’s development.

The child who regularly receives corporal punishment develops mental, physical and psychological weakness. Further, his behaviours turn violent and he becomes weak in studies.
With rise in corporal punishment, the performance of children gets deteriorated at all fronts.
The study says that the main cause of school dropout is corporal punishment.
Fear of punishment makes a child scared and mentally disturbed.
He or she feels ashamed, disgusted and insulted, becomes shy and frightened and experiences nightmares, loss of appetite or develops inferiority complex.
The study suggested alternatives means to avoid corporal punishment and said that adults should improve their attitude towards children, besides paying more attention to them.
Children needed to be taught about right and wrong and should be encouraged on good performance at academic level, the study suggested.

Ashfaq Yusufzai
1 June 2005

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