Monday, May 1, 2017 08:17:36 AM
Sir Frank Peters :
France this week joined the growing number of awakened nations to recognise the horror and futility of corporal punishment to children and banned the despicable practice.
France is the 52nd country to do so, six years following the ban by Bangladesh of corporal punishment in schools and madrasas.
The new French regulation bans "any cruel, degrading or humiliating punishment, including any use of physical violence," including spanking in the home.
The first country to make corporal punishment illegal was Sweden, in 1979, followed by Finland in 1983. Bangladesh had its name listed on the Roll of Honour of civilised nations in 2011 when Supreme Court Justice Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif outlawed corporal punishment here and declared it: 'cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom'.
The decision by the French parliament follows a reprimand by the Council of Europe in 2015 decrying France's lack of a specific law "prohibiting corporal punishment in a clear, binding and precise way, including slaps and spankings, in breach of Article 17 of the European Charter of Social Rights."
Article 17, states domestic law must prohibit and penalize all forms of violence against children and the relevant provisions "must be sufficiently clear, binding and precise, so as to preclude the courts from refusing to apply them to violence against children.
Dr. Gustavo Pietropolli Charmet, a psychiatrist and chairman of the Italian non-profit Help Center for Mistreated Children, said that laws prohibiting corporal punishment are useful because it has become clear that "the educational value of physical and moral pain is zero.
Suffering does not strengthen education and does not improve self-esteem," Charmet said. "In fact, it can create guilt, fear and vengeance."
Renowned American school psychologist and best-selling author Nadine A. Block welcomed the French decision. She spent 25-years campaigning against corporal punishment across America, had the practice banned in the state of Ohio, and authored the book 'Breaking.
The Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment' specifically to assist educators, parents, child advocates, policy makers, and members of helping professions understand the damage it causes.
"Corporal punishment leads to physical injuries of children, psychological problems, alienation from school, school drop-outs and loss of self esteem, to name a few. It's inhumane, ineffective, and archaic," she said.
Block asserts that children should have the same right by law that all adults have - the right to be free from physical harm.
In February 2015, Pope Francis stunned the world when he, apparently, expressed his approval of parents spanking their kids, as long as it is carried out with respect for their dignity.
His words drew a wave of reactions, both negative and positive, to the deplorable idea that corporal punishment is okay.
Although requested by this writer and a number of child protection agencies around the world, he has yet to clarify if what he said was in jest.
In contrast, the learned Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani made it crystal clear that Islam strictly prohibits physical punishment of any degree and in all settings, including corporal punishment in schools and madrassas.
Countless studies conducted worldwide by leading universities and professional organizations have all concluded, without a single exception, that corporal punishment is ineffective, immoral, humiliating, degrading, harmful and serves no useful purpose.
It may stop misbehaviour momentarily and appear to be effective, but it isn't.
It generates fear and alienation toward teachers and parents and can generate gross disrespect, distrust, and hatred towards them and society on the whole.
A child who is beaten is never grateful to the perpetrators or the society that permitted the abuse. My congratulations to France.
(The writer is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, a royal goodwill ambassador, and a human rights activist.)
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