Corporal Punishment And Violent Discipline

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The United Nations Committee on Rights of the Child has defined corporal or physical punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light”. The punishment can be in the form of slapping, spanking, and smacking with hand or with an implement which can be any stick, whip, shoe or belt. UNICEF expressly mentions that violent discipline is one of the commonly occurring characteristics experienced by children. Parents or Caregivers want to teach their child self-control and proper behavior, which is, of course, an integral part of child-rearing in all cultures and this is the reason they depend on the use of violent methods, both physical and psychological, to punish unwanted behaviors and encourage desired ones.

On July 3, 2019, the French parliament has passed a bill for the adoption of legislation to ban corporal punishment of children in all settings. This was a breakthrough development that is of crucial importance for children’s protection from violence in the country. Rules and regulations along with law are the pillars for the proper functioning of the child protection system. In Austria, Article 5 of the Federal Constitutional Act on the Rights of Children 2011, explicitly states that every child has the right to a non-violent upbringing, prohibiting corporal punishment, the infliction of mental suffering, sexual abuse, and other abuses. Children are to be treated with respect for their person and individuality and may not be subjected to Corporal Punishment or any other humiliating treatment”. Sweden was the first country to include a specific ban on corporal punishment of children.

In Sweden, The Children and Parents Code was amended in 1979 to include a ban on corporal punishment. Chapter 6, section 1 of the code highlights that “Children are entitled to care, security and a good upbringing. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution protects the ‘Right to Life’ and this is the first reference point. India’s charter of 2003 called the Child Rights Charter states that “all children have a right to be protected against neglect, maltreatment, injury, trafficking, sexual and physical abuse of all kinds, corporal punishments, torture, exploitation, violence and degrading treatment”. The National Policy on Education (1986) was modified in 1992 and stated that corporal punishment will be firmly excluded from the educational system. The National Plan of Action for Children, 2005 prohibited the schools to eliminate corporal punishment from schools. Section 17 of the Right to Education Bill stated that no child shall be subjected to physical punishment or mental harassment and whoever contravenes the provisions shall be liable to disciplinary action under the service rules applicable to such person.

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All children are different so there cannot be a prescribed manner to deal with a child. The government of Sweden never told parents or legal guardians how to take care of their child, but did tell them that their child is their responsibility and they shall be nurtured with love and not violence or corporal punishment. To curb the problem of corporal punishment and violent discipline parents should give appropriate direction and guidance. The priority of every parent shall be to put the child’s best interest first.

It must be remembered that violence against children which includes every type of punishment is it corporal or psychological is a violation of the right of a child. The dignity and physical integrity of the child is hampered. When violence is done against a child, they won’t be able to reach their full potential, their health, survival, and development will be at risk. There is a stringent need to promote and protect non-violent values and awareness should be spread among those who are working with children that an end should be put to all these situations.

A possible solution to handle the children who are to be taught how to behave properly was given in 1920 by Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikus which suggested Positive Discipline Parenting and Classroom Management where a specific set of the technique was used to award those who had good behavior. The program basically was designed to teach children to be responsible, respectful, and resourceful and to inculcate a feeling of self-discipline. It gives a sense of responsibility to make life decisions, based on their own experiences, and to utilize an internal system of reinforcement to weigh the values of the decisions that they have made.

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