“There is ample research to prove corporal punishment is not an effective method for discipline and has both short and long term detrimental effects on children,” the Coalition for the Protection of Children said.
The Coalition was speaking after following news that the police are investigating what they termed “the alleged assault of a 13 year old female student by a school employee.” The female employee who was arrested is understood to be a senior staff member of the Bermuda Institute, with unofficial sources saying the parents filed the complaint after the girl received corporal punishment.
The Coalition said: “This recent case involving the need for medical care following the administration of corporal punishment in one of Bermuda’s schools is a stark reminder of the fact that Bermuda is the only democratic country left that allows corporal punishment as a part of the disciplinary code of conduct for children in government schools and although this is not a government school, it is one of 2 other private schools and countless other nursery schools that still allow this practice.
“There is ample research to prove corporal punishment is not an effective method for discipline and has both short and long term detrimental effects on children. Research indicates that physical punishment does not promote long-term, internalized compliance in children and is actually associated with less internalization of norms for appropriate behavior and compliance.
“We must reexamine the actual right of schools to implement corporal punishment based on the research regarding its negative effects on the child and ineffectiveness as a disciplinary method., the mental health impact of corporal punishment results in children feeling distress, anger, fear, shame and disgust.
“It is associated with higher levels of child aggression and antisocial behavior including fighting, bullying and general behavioral problems as well as decreased capacity for children to internalize socially acceptable behavior. Physical punishment is also proven to put children at increased risk for mental health problems including anxiety, depression, addiction and general psychological maladjustment.
“This is also proven to persist into adulthood. Research proves that children who are subject to corporal punishment are more likely to be adult abusers and engage in criminal and violent behavior as a way to handle conflict.
“Finally, Bermuda must question the right of schools to implement corporal punishment when the United Nation’s governing committee on the rights of children repeatedly calls for states to ban corporal punishment.
“In 2006, the U.N.’s Committee on the Rights of the Child reaffirmed ‘the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment’ based on a combination of other human rights granted in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“The committee further stated the obligation of all States to ‘move quickly to prohibit and eliminate all corporal punishment’ and ‘to outline the legislative and other awareness-raising and educational measures that States must take’ in order to address the widespread acceptance and tolerance of corporal punishment.
“It claims that any form of corporal punishment (defined as punishment using any physical force) is degrading to children, representing an infringement on their right to ‘respect for human dignity and physical integrity’ as well as their right to protection from ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’
The Coalition concluded: “As a defacto signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child , Bermuda has not only a moral obligation but legal duty to reassess its cultural acceptance of physically harming our children in order to punish them, given these human rights issues in addition to the negative impacts that corporal punishment can have on children.”
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