May 26, 2013 | 12:55 AM (BD Time)
26 May, 2013 Sunday
No physical punishment on children at any age
Sir Frank Peters :
CHILDREN who are given corporal punishment in school or in the home, spanked, slapped, grabbed and pushed, shoved, kicked, beaten with a cane or any other means of physical punishment, may be at an increased risk for developing mental problems later in life and it may cause mood and anxiety disorders or lead to alcohol and drug abuse.
That's the findings of a new study published this week in the latest issue of Pediatrics (Canada), which is raising a storm across America. It suggests a link between non-abusive physical punishment and several types of mental disorders.
The study, conducted at the University of Manitoba supports similar findings of old in the UK and other European countries and while not revealing many new facts, the study's conclusions raises awareness and highlights the dangers and evil of corporal punishment in the home and school.
Tracie Afifi, an epidemiologist and lead author of the study said her team examined the link between psychological problems and non-abusive physical punishment and excluded physical and sexual abuse in order to better gauge the effect of corporal punishment alone.
"Although it is well established that physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and other severe forms of maltreatment in childhood are associated with mental illness, this is one of the first studies to show a link between non-abusive physical punishment and several different types of mental disorders", says Ms. Afifi, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the university.
"Individuals who are physically punished have an increased likelihood of having mental health disorders." Approximately 2% to 7% of mental disorders in the study were linked to physical punishment," she said.
For the study, Afifi and her team analyzed data from a government survey of 35,000 non-institutionalized adults in the USA, collected between 2004 and 2005.
About 1,300 of the respondents, all over age 20, were considered to have experienced physical punishment as children. Afifi acknowledges that it's difficult to change people's mind about corporal punishment, but says "we're confident of the reliability of our data, and the data strongly indicate that physical punishment should not be used on children - at any age. And it's important for parents and schools to be aware of that," she added.
The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses this view and strongly opposes striking a child for any reason. When ALL headmasters and schoolteachers in Bangladesh learn the meaning of 'no', the country will benefit more.
While it is not difficult to find fault with Bangladesh, when right is performed credit must be given. January 13, 2011 is one of those dates that will be deeply etched in Bangladesh history for the decision taken by the High Court that will bring untold benefit to the nation evermore.
When the High Court Divisional bench comprising of Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif outlawed corporal punishment on that day declaring it: "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom" it set a glowing good example for many countries to follow, including 19 backward American states that in their ignorance believe you can teach respect though violence. Even a dog - 'man's best friend' - that is mistreated by its master and forgives his aggressor continuously will eventually decide at some time in his life 'enough is enough' and bite.
Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy recently introduced to American Congress an act to prohibit corporal punishment in all schools throughout America and is presently awaiting a positive outcome. No doubt the findings of this Canadian study, which has been reported in all national American dailies and has been the scorching subject of TV and radio talk shows ever since, will speak volumes in her favour.
Sadly, nineteen American states where paddling (corporal punishment) is permitted have yet to learn that knowledge is taught through the mind and not through the behind.
(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, humanitarian, and a loyal foreign friend of Bangladesh.)
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