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Protecting students from psychological damages

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13th-Apr-2017       
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Sir Frank Peters :
 Provocative Mike Tyson like hitting comments by an American pastor on the evils of corporal punishment have set the social media ablaze. The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf has been a staunch critic of corporal punishment in public and private schools for years, calling the practice "criminal, cruel, and a sign of gross administrative incompetence, ineffective and totally unnecessary".
He is vigorously campaigning to abolish corporal punishment wherever it is practiced, especially in his native America. His hard-hitting, no-holds-barred, wake-up-to reality comments that call a spade a spade, are gaining new supporters by the thousands every hour, including from reformed born-again teachers of the outdated cruel practice.
Mr. Sagendorf emphasizes that any school that practices corporal punishment is run by a failed administration and teachers who practice corporal punishment are failed teachers and unworthy to be members of the otherwise noble profession.
He points out that no other public institution keeps order using fear and violent retaliation, not even prisons.  He describes the practice of corporal punishment as a form of terrorism and that adults hold the power to assault a student at their whim when the student doesn't abide by the adult's vision of order.  
 "There are literally thousands of school systems in America that can keep order and provide quality education without even the threat of physically assaulting students. Why not all of them? Those that cannot - or won't - are guilty of gross administrative incompetence," he said.
The compassionate outspoken reverend said the practice of corporal punishment could be summarized with four C's.
Firstly, it is criminal.  Corporal punishment is the practice of intentional assault and battery upon a student by a school official.  In every other arena of public life, assault and battery is punishable by the legal system.
Secondly, it is cowardly.  To willingly inflict extreme pain upon a student for violating adult-established rules, usually with an intensity arbitrated by an adult who has no fear of consequences (physical or legal) is gross cowardice.  It is the kind of the bullying that quality schools seek to eliminate.  The administrator of the corporal punishment may well enjoy the rush of domination, control, intimidation, or just a sick joy of hitting kids.  It also may signal sexual perversion (sadism).
Thirdly, it is corrupting.  If the beating of students is accepted behavior in the school, the same disregard for the dignity of young people is sure to creep into the wider community.  It gives community adults license to hit kids at will.  The community becomes a far less hospitable place for kids to grow up.
Lastly, it is contagious.  It teaches that violence is a solution to problems in a world that's already bilious and retching in violence. Every academic/scientific study of corporal punishment in public and private schools has concluded that corporal punishment does not make for better discipline or for better education. In many instances, the effect is the exact opposite.  One unanimous conclusion, however, is that students subjected to school corporal punishment may suffer long-term psychological damage-some even for a lifetime.
He concludes his thought-provoking observations with a couple of Mike Tyson like powerful uppercuts to the school system. He said the practice of corporal punishment has no place in public or private schools.  And neither does the adults, administrators or teachers, who employ it.  
Where it remains, he said, the people who conduct such abuse must face criminal charges.  Likewise, prosecutors and judges must have the wisdom and courage to adjudicate severe consequences for those who practice this kind of cruelty and brutality on children.
School children in Bangladesh have been protected by law against the cruelty of corporal punishment in schools… on paper at least. In January 13, 2011, modern-day heroes of the nation Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md Sheikh Hassan Arif declared corporal punishment "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom".
Has this put an end to the horrific practice? - Of course not. It's business as usual in some schools in a society where 'teachers' are revered despite their wrongdoings, are perceived to be educated, and know what's best for the child among the illiterate and uneducated who know no better and trust them explicitly. How sad.
Corporal punishment is not only evil, but brings out the darkest evil in humans who may not consider themselves to be evil. Take for example, the 'hellish nightmare' at the Talimul Quran Mahila Madrasa in Kadamtali where 14 young girls were literally branded for life with a red-hot cooking spatula by their 'teacher' to demonstrate her concept of what hell would be like!
And what about the 'teacher' at a Sunamganj school who forced students of Class V to cut their hands and legs with used razor blades until they bled, as punishment for not doing their homework?
Corporal punishment is an act of stupidity, ignorance, and child abuse and an act against humanity.  It instantly destroys trust between parent and child, teacher and pupil. It's been proved emphatically to be totally ineffective, immoral, humiliating, degrading, harmful and serving no useful purpose whatsoever and definitely doesn't help make people better well rounded more balanced citizens. Fortunately, not all teachers are alike… some children have nothing to fear.
A bully 'teacher' has a flawed character and a gripe against society. He takes his personal problems into the classroom where he has captive 'whipping boys' on whom he can release his frustrations without fear of repercussions.
Sadly, some children, beaten in the classroom by their 'teacher', complain to their parents only to be told by them that they must have deserved it... that discipline never did anyone any harm… that it didn't do them any harm and that the teacher had acted in their best interests! God love them, these parents are more to be pitied than laughed at, but even unblemished ignorance deserves admiration for its perfection!
A best-selling book entitled Breaking the Paddle: Ending School Corporal Punishment by Nadine A. Block of the Center for Effective Discipline highlights the many dangers and long-term effects of corporal punishment on children - and society at large.  "How is it possible for a child to simply ignore the humiliation and hurt of corporal punishment?" She asks. "It's like being slapped hard on the face and told to forget it."
Corporal punishment won't go away on it's own. If you love your child, the very least you can do is visit your child's school or madrasah and make it known that you do not want your child to be given corporal punishment. It's really that simple. It sends a clear signal to the 'teachers', headmaster, and administration.
I know of many fathers who took this approach, spoke to the 'teachers' face to face and their children were never hit again. Bullies lose power when confronted.  Remember the immortal words of Irish statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797) who coined the phrase:  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".

(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian and a royal Goodwill Ambassador.)

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