Should corporal punishment be abolished in schools?

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Corporal punishment is meted out to students at school by their teachers, for minor acts of indiscipline or misbehaviour. This is done by caning or spanking them in public, which is a retributive form of punishment. The object is to deter others from committing the same mistake. This very concept and method of giving punishment, is not in conformity to what a school stands for.

A school is a temple of learning, where students go to acquire knowledge and to add to their mental acumen, rather than to be subjected to torture and humiliation. The school where this is practiced becomes a dignified prison, where all students are to follow set rules and procedure. The non-compliance of which would invite immediate retribution. Thus instead of looking forward to another day at school, students are happier staying away from it, defeating the very objective of a school.

It also inhibits their mental faculty, which gets clouded with fear and apprehension. Thus curtailing their natural urge for experimenting and learning through trial and error, that is so vital for the learning process. It also dampens his initiative, for there is the lurking fear of punishment, on committing a mistake. Thus he remains content in following rules, thereby curbing his creative talent to do things differently.

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Quite seldom it has been observed, that it has a telling effect on the morale of the student, who no longer wish to go to school. Apart from the physical injury, the embarrassment that accompanies this form of punishment has a profound affected on the psychology of the young pupil. He detests the school and its tormentors and quite often drops out of school. Thus not only does it kills his desire for acquiring knowledge, but changes the course of his life, by making him a criminal or an antisocial element. We also hear of instances, when a teacher in a fit of rage, beats his pupil resulting in his death.

It also has a crippling effect on his personality, which by the time he comes out of school, is in shreds. He is nervous, fearful and lacks confidence. He may be externally a perfect gentleman, but is severely wanting in initiative, creativity and self esteem. Such a person cannot make any positive contribution to society and will be a misfit.

There is, therefore, an urgent need to ban corporal punishment, for which if required law should be framed. It is, however, encouraging to note, that quite a few institutions on their hand have done away with this sort of punishment. The days of “Spare the rod and spoil the child”, are indeed over. This is but a belated realisation of what Alexander Pope once said “Tis education forms the common mind; just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined”

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