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The Financial Express

OPINION

Corporal punishment is a crime against man, society and God


-Reuters file photo -Reuters file photo

A school classroom is no place for misery, lost hopes and the grief-stricken tears of children shamelessly shed; nor should it be a colosseum where the flames of joy, excitement, mystery, and adventures of learning are extinguished.

Schools should be sanctified establishments like churches, mosques and temples - the custodians and conduits of knowledge and truth. Places where whatever you see and hear is honourable and can be trusted without question. Even a whiff of the shameful ugliness, wrongdoings, corruption and skullduggery in the world outside should never permeate its sanctified borders.

In an ideal society, schools and madrashas and their teachers are sacred and should be honoured, treated and respected as such.

Schools are the most important playgrounds and learning arenas a child could ever hope to attend. They teach the vital and necessary academic concepts and skills every child needs to know to help reach their fullest possible development for living morally, creatively, and productively in a democratic society. Equally important is that they provide pupils the opportunity to interact with each other socially, academically, and emotionally. 

To steal the pleasure of learning from children is shameful, a disgrace and a crime against them, the nation and God. It's one of the few crimes that are performed frequently in broad daylight, often with accomplices complicit in the despicable reprehensible act.

To subject a child, in any setting, to corporal punishment is cruel and wrong, but especially in a school or madrasha where love is often spoken about as being sacred and pure, but, hypocritically rarely displayed.

How ignorant do parents and 'teachers' have to be to want their children or the children in their care, to end up as ignorant as them? Some seem to wear ignorance as if it were a badge of honour --- their prized possession.

There is no shame in being ignorant, that's a mere misfortune of circumstance. The shame comes in if they try to influence others into joining their club.

What I find incredibly hard to understand and accept is how some people (parents, teachers, guardians) resort to violence to 'teach'. If we are all reading from the same holy books, the Quran, the Bible etc. which teach love, understanding, and compassion, shouldn't we be practising the same?

After all, violence only teaches violence. When is the last time a family sought a husband for their beloved daughter with the pre-requisite that he must be masterly in violence?

The best lessons in all walks of life are taught by example. Do as I say, but don't do as I do is hypocrisy at its worst.

Not only is corporal punishment not necessary in disciplining children, but also it's morally wrong and totally ineffective. It's the weapon an ignorant, compassionless teacher, parent or imam uses to camouflage his/her own ignorance and teaching inadequacies.

It is a known fact and indisputable truth that life is precious. Covid-19 has reminded the world of this. Medical doctors and surgeons swear oaths to its preservation. It is also believed by many that children are on-loan gifts from God. Nobody on earth actually owns another person. Parents are merely temporary carers and protectors being put to the test to see how well they look after their Godly on-loans and judged accordingly.

If you loan a neighbour gardening tools (or whatever), you don't expect them returned in a damaged state. If they did, your opinion of them would be drastically changed. Similarly, if children are on loan from God, He doesn't expect them to be returned home damaged.

We can make ample allowances and excuses for ignorant people (God forgive them for they know not what they do), but that privilege does not apply to people in positions of influence like 'teachers' imams and other religious leaders, who are expected to, and should know, better.

For Bangladesh to advance towards realising Bangabandhu's dream of Sonar Bangla, it's time for a sincere spring come clean beneficial to the nation, whether the lawbreakers are brown-envelope pushers, relatives of politicians, or not.

Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, and appreciated foreign friend of Bangladesh

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