Violence Begets Violence

 KO File Photo by Abid Bhat

By Mehvish Khursheed

SOME actions are normalized and engraved into our society in such a way that even if it’s physical abuse, it’s okay. Earlier in the times when our parents used to be children, they were subjected to certain correctional methods and corporal punishment was one of the most used methods. It was a norm back then to spank, beat or even use harsh words for children who misbehaved. It was considered necessary to incorporate fear in a child’s mind in order for them to behave in a certain way. Corporal punishment is still practiced in the 21st century in most Indian schools. The Delhi high court banned its use in Delhi schools in 2000. Many schools claim to apply the ban – though the enforcement is lax.

Corporal punishment often turns into serious physical abuse. It also lends itself to the wrong messaging that is, it teaches the children that violence is an acceptable way of dealing with issues. It teaches them it’s okay to use violence.

Children face many emotional and social hurdles growing up especially when they are in their adolescence; this is when  they become very sensitive to their environment and the way people treat them. They face the wrath of an unmitigated identity crisis and confusion. With this pain of growing up, they only see two figures from whom to seek guidance – parents and teachers.  The image of a teacher or a parent is carved as an ideal and a perfect picture in a child’s mind. Every action taken to solve a situation by them is considered the right way of handling them. Many times when a child feels his or her needs are not being met such as the need for attention, he or she misbehaves and causes a fuss; the lack of skill to handle it makes many of the teacher and parents strike out at children and use corporal, verbal ,mental or other forms of emotional punishment.

There is a very thin line between correcting a child and abusing a child, very often authority is misused by a teacher or an elder who uses dictatorship methods over a child. Violence in many forms has been accepted in the society in such a way that it feels normal. It’s widely used by teachers and parents regardless of its evident lack of effectiveness. Therefore, layers of beliefs and practices that cloak corporal punishment under the guise of love care and protection- when in reality its abuse of authority that harms the child.

Many studies have shown that Physical punishment including spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behaviour, physical injury and mental health problems in children.  Corporal punishment is associated with a variety of psychological and behavioural disorder in children and adults like anxiety, depression, withdrawal, low self-esteem impulsiveness, delinquency and substance abuse.

It is globally recognised that punishment in any form or kind in school comes in the way of the development of the full potential of children. When adults use corporal punishment it teaches children that hitting is an acceptable means of dealing with conflict. Corporal punishment leads to adverse physical, psychological and educational outcomes- increase aggressive, destructive behaviour, vandalism, poor school achievements, poor attention span, increase dropout rates, low self-esteem, anxiety, somatic complains retaliation against teachers. Many people support the use of corporal punishment and recall their childhood days where getting beaten up by teachers and extreme physical punishments were a part of teaching. But change is a law of nature and with the advancement of time and growing field of research we know now what effects such type of punishment leaves on a child’s mental health.

There are a number of alternative methods of dealing with a child or an adolescent that include Distraction, removing them from the situation, moral conversations, loss of privileges etc. The not wanting to change the old traditional methods of teaching attitude is found in many teachers and parents who now have become a source of distress instead of comfort. These distressful children then grow up to become abusive adults and also show aggressive behaviour towards their spouses as well. Our society is currently suffering from domestic violence, assaults and many other aggressive crimes, and the offenders most usually have a history of being victims of such aggression themselves. Corporal  punishment and other cruel and degrading forms of punishment are forms of violence and states must take all appropriate, legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to eliminate them.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer

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