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2 February 2021 - News

Should ban on corporal punishment be lifted over indiscipline in schools


By Ms Yvonne Arunga

Save the Children Kenya and Madagascar country director


If  we believe in the universality of children’s rights,  corporal punishment is not compatible with this belief. Under international rights laws to which Kenya is a signatory, children have the same fundamental general human rights as adults. These include the freedom from inhuman, cruel, or degrading treatment and equal protection under the law. Children are a vulnerable group in society and it is a paradox to propose to accord them less protection than we do adults.

Corporal punishment has negative impacts on children and rather unfortunately adults that experienced discipline in the form of violence as children are most likely to perpetuate it in the false belief of its utility. Violence in any form should be unacceptable in our society, corporal punishment teaches children that it is acceptable to use violence to resolve issues. Also quite importantly, studies indicate that corporal punishment has an adverse effect on a child’s learning experience and in some cases leads to increased school disengagement and dropout.

We need to get to the fundamental causes of grievance in schools and address these from the root up. There are positive behaviour management methods for children that parents and teachers should use. Corporal punishment is a shortcut that does much more damage by perpetuating the cycle of violence and more fundamentally it breaks the contract between us and our children.    

This article was first published in The Standard 1 February 2021 p.15