Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain intended as behavioral correction or punishment on children. It is one of the various ways of implementing disciplinary measures in the society particularly in the primary schools in Fiji. Corporal punishment however is a practice that is insensitive to many and there are reasonable concerns about the dangers and abuses of this form of punishment. The accomplishment of such punishment is potentially harmful and could have lasting physical, psychological and social negative effects on primary school children in Fiji.
Corporal punishment, first of all causes nothing else but bodily harm or injury to the children. This is because children attending primary schools are very young and tender. The physical contact like spanking is one of the most common types of punishment children get from either misbehaving in class or making mistakes in their school work. The incomparable strength of an adult to a child being spanked would no doubt physically hurt the child. Children bear pain and suffering from this form of punishment. Though most of the pain and suffering may be for short term, some teachers practice this form of punishment with emotions. As a result they end up injuring the child for life time. For instance some teachers just bash up their students hitting their sensitive organs like the eyes, ears or the head. In some cases where the child is very aggressive he could retaliate to the teacher causing more problems and body harm. Some parents too when they see their children being physically hurt tend to get aggressive and may take some measure to hurt the teacher concerned. All of which could have been prevented if corporal punishment is abolished.
Psychologically, corporal punishment poses some adverse effects on children mentally. Studies shows, spanking in childhood is associated with higher levels of alcoholism, depression, masochistic fantasy and suicidal ideation in life. (Christopher D. Dugan, "Beating the Devil out of them: Corporal Punishment in American Families and Its Effect on Children.). He further stated in his book and I quote; "...in the longer run, spanking has no measurable beneficial effects at all, and is associated with a variety of long term negative effects. The more children are spanked, the more they assault siblings and other children. The more children are spanked, the more their rates of age-adjusted antisocial behavior increase over time. Spanking in childhood is associated with higher levels of alcoholism, depression, masochistic fantasy, and suicidal ideation later in life."
In a Reuter’s article "Punished for life: Canadian study links spanking to addiction and psychiatric disorders, Dr. Harriet McMillan says;
“...there appears to be a linear association between the frequency of slapping and spanking during childhood and a lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse or dependence and externalizing problems. Motivating primary schools’ authorities in Fiji to change from corporal punishment to alternative methods of discipline would therefore make a massive contribution to the mental health of the next generation.
The social implications of corporal punishment too are plenty. Corporal punishment accounts greatly for unpleasant future of our children. The physical and emotional trauma is just one side of the story. The social delusion has its own downside. Firstly, the child begins to dislike school and starts come up with excuses to miss class. This affects the child progress in class and he or she may end up dropping out of school. This violates the child’s right to education. Eventually this will cause social problems like unemployment, poverty and in the worst scenarios some of the children when they grow up, get themselves involved in criminal activities. All which happened because of this so called disciplinary measure.
All in all, corporal punishment causes physical harm, mental breakdown and social problems for our children. In order that these negative effects are prevented corporal punishment should be abolished once and for all in the primary schools in Fiji.