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Total abolishment of corporal punishment

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By Mercy Kelani

A JSS student in Kaduna State was beaten to death for absence in school.

Severe forms of violence, including slapping, whipping and caning have been the common system of corporal punishment as a way of correcting indiscipline. At Al-Azhar School in Zaria, Kaduna State, a JSS3 student, Marwanu Nuhu Sambo, died by physical punishment. This death was caused by the vice principal’s corporal punishment for his absence from school. Marwanu was caned 100 strokes on his head which resulted to the loss of a tooth and ended with his death. However, the school administration wrote a disclaimer denying the adoption of this method of punishment.

The perpetrator was arrested by the police and extensive investigation has been initiated. This incident restated the significance of addressing issues of corporal punishment in schools across Nigeria, suggesting optional disciplinary measures that will assure the safety and well-being of the students. In Nigeria, the challenges of corporal punishment have been discussed in Nigerian schools. Moreover, this method has been the habitual method in Nigeria used by educators, although the impact and consequences on pupils and students have required evaluation.

Different parties argued on the impact of corporal punishment.

UNICEF Chief of Education, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, stated that one of the consequences of corporal punishment is violence in educational institutions. This method is supposed to serve as conflict resolution, encourage peace and dialogue, empower children for life in the society, impart values of human rights and provide safety. According to UNICEF, corporal punishment is considered to be a medium of violence against children. The Committee on the Rights of the Child also sees it as a system of inflicting discomfort and pain through physical force.

Also, documented cases of children dying as a result of school corporal punishment, a negative impact on children’s cognitive and brain development, and increased cases of school drop-out, were identified by the Children Agency to be the effects of corporal punishment. Different parties argued on the impact of corporal punishment as an effective system to address the causes of misbehaviour and create short-term compliance. According to studies, trauma, fear, and worry can result to severe impact on a child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being.

Alternative disciplines enhance a conducive learning environment.

Physical punishment is regarded as a violation of human rights and protection from all types of violence, safety, dignity. Arguments showed that some believe that it is the active method to instil discipline while engaging in alternative disciplinary methods which is more safer. Hence, conflict resolution programmes, counselling, positive reinforcement are considered as optional disciplines instead of corporal punishment. These alternatives aid the moulding of the students’ behaviour and at the same time contribute to their well-being.

Furthermore, Long-term behavioural changes are known to be difficult to attain through the method of corporal punishment. More so, severe punishment has been seen to be the result of physical punishment. The adoption of alternative disciplines enhances a conducive learning environment for the children. With the alternative methods, globally, Nigeria can be part of the transition to effective and compassionate educational practises. In addition, the alternative discipline can aid orderliness in the classroom. Also, educators should be taught the system of conflict resolution.

Child’s Rights Act of 2003 prohibits corporal punishment.

Additionally, the Legal Framework: Article 11 of the Child Rights Act 2003 has stated that no child must be subjected to maltreatment, neglect, abuse, emotional injury, mental or physical abuse, including sexual abuse, punishment, or degrading treatment, etc. This means that every child has the right to dignity. The Child’s Rights Act of 2003 prohibits the method of corporal punishment, though it is not practised in the country. Also, there should be active participation of parents in the education of their children.

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