Did NA ban corporal punishment congruously ?
THE children are the heart of a society. They are its most vital resource. They carry a divine message for the world to move on thus, they are ought to be its future carrier.
This makes raising of children a communal obligation. An African proverb aptly describes this “it takes a village to raise a child”.
The greatest thing which a society could do for a child is if it equips him with a sense of responsibility and wings to fly independently.
Out of the whole, parents and teachers do the maximum. The role of parents is unconditional.
They do not waver even in the face of adversity of any kind. The repository of their affection, solicitude and sacrifice for their children never dries up.
The support of teachers is also forthcoming but somewhat reciprocal nevertheless, more or less, a society treats both equally when it comes to upbringing of a child including corporal punishment for his betterment.
Similarly in section 89 of Pakistan Penal Code, teachers and guardians had exemption to administer physical punishment “in good faith” and “for the benefit” of the child however, now they are also under the blanket.
Under the bill passed by NA, they can be held accountable if they indulge themselves in physically punishing the children regardless of their intent.
The groups for child rights have hailed this development. Notwithstanding their delight, given conditions, this warrants a deep introspection before the Senate also accords its nod because it is not home-grown.
It is a borrowed concept from the West where its product is not all that sweet as portrayed by human rights organizations, liberals and pseudo intellectuals rather, it is bitter when seen in the context of family units and moral and social values.
In the West, family units stand nearly broken. Social maladies of almost all kinds plague their landscape.
Take the examples of USA and UK which are considered most advanced and sophisticated civilizations but their plight is also dismal. 27 million people are addicted to drugs and 89 million to alcohol.
106 million people smoke and 21 million die every year owing to smoking related diseases. 24 million women prostitute themselves legally.
Every 19 minute, there are 8 murders or homicide cases. There are two rapes every 7 seconds and every 59 seconds, three robberies are committed.
257,000 children are aborted or killed in wombs every year legally/illegally. 21 million children are born out of the wedlock annually.
Last but not the least, 2.8 million people commit suicide every year because of frustration/aimlessness in life.
These are social afflictions which generally take roots at juvenile stage and in the West, at this stage, children are left to swim or sink by themselves for the sake of child rights.
Being in the information intensive age, they would know how to carve out their path. It is another misleading notion.
Contrarily, the latter is more of disadvantage than advantage as they remain computer bound and do not mingle with others in a social setting thus, ultimately, become handicapped about pitfalls lie ahead in life.
Coupled with scant guidance/supervision by parents/teachers, they tend to fall astray. The proponents of child rights argue that healthy development of children is essential for wellbeing of the humanity and corporal punishment retards their cognitive development and lower their self-esteem.
These induce greater aggression and anti-social behaviour among them, weaken relationship with parents and cause mental health problems.
There are many critics who suspect magnitude and conclusiveness of negatives outcomes as spelled out.
Medical opinion is also split that spanking is harmful to children or otherwise. Majority view is that physical discipline is effective and harmless.
The children who are occasionally spanked for control/correction, are disciplined and respect authorities. To the contrary, who are not, are uncontrolled and disrespectful.
Here, one is reminded of a famous proverb “a parent who spares the rod, spoils the child”.
Another fact of life is stick and carrot approach. It holds good for children too if applied thoughtfully.
Though there is negative impact of corporal punishment but this is trivial and small particularly, when corporal punishment is considered the normal culturally.
Besides, any bar on parents is negation of their fundamental right to control upbringing of their child. If they spank own child, it is not out of recklessness or love for violence. Underlying purpose is his secured future.
Probably this is the reason that UN Convention on Rights of Child has not found its feet as intended with even highest rate of ratification historically.
In case of Pakistan, banning of corporal punishment particularly, by parents and teachers is incongruous morally, socially and materially.
These were parents especially, belonging to middle class who tightened their belt and groomed a corps of children to shoulder the running of country at the time when government educational institutions are largely producing unemployables.
They never hesitated to be tough with their children if found wanting and response of children was forthcoming to their counselling/supervision and even to physical control.
They are not only top of the line lot educationally but their behaviour is also morally and socially correct.
The role of concerned teachers is also laudable. Presently we are passing our worst days but still we are relatively far better socially than the West where human rights are found at vertex.
A legislation ought to be congruous to own environments/needs thus, as given above, we need to introspect deeply. Our main problem is poverty which engenders all ills with regard to children.
Regardless of this, cruel and degrading punishment needs to be stamped out. We must not allow ourselves to be swayed by a mix of voices. Some are residing in illusion and some are foreign driven.
— The writer, a retired Lt Col, is a senior columnist based in Islamabad.