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28 Nov 2012   10:23:39 PM   Wednesday BdST A- A A+ Print this E-mail this

Sir Frank Peters Report

Corporal punishment leads to cancer

News Desk
Sir Frank Peters Report Corporal punishment leads to cancer

DHAKA: Schools should not be hell-hole fear factories where the once-in-a-lifetime – never again to be repeated--God-given gift of youth, fun and joy is beaten out; and hatred, anger, despise of society and revenge is beaten-in.

According to Sir Frank Peters-

Hot on the heels of a provocative, alarming and disturbing, sit-up-and-pay-attention report earlier this year on the ill effects of corporal punishment now comes another that’s even more alarming.

It links corporal punishment to cancer.

The University of Manitoba report in July sent an earth-shattering shockwave throughout the world pleading--for the sake of the children and society on the whole--to abolish corporal punishment completely.

It said: “Children who are given corporal punishment in school or in the home, spanked, slapped, grabbed and pushed, shoved, kicked, beaten with a cane or any other means of physical punishment, may be at an increased risk for developing mental problems later in life and it may cause mood and anxiety disorders or lead to alcohol and drug abuse.”

Now, British psychologists at Plymouth University are telling us that punishment in childhood makes kids more prone to serious illness and that smacking or even shouting at children boosts their risk of developing cancer, heart disease and asthma.

Their findings will be published in the Journal of Behavioural Medicine next month.

Stress, as most adults are aware, is responsible for countless Minor-to-major health ailments and is the No.1 killer in modern times. More people are said to die each year from stress-related illness than any other disease.

While stress might have all the appearances of being a ‘modern disease’ a reflection of the all-consuming speeded-up, dog-eat-dog, grab-what-you-can lifestyle and everyday worries, recent research suggests it might have taken root in childhood.

Research has shown that stress can cause inflammation to cells, tissues and blood vessels and that hitting or even just yelling at children can trigger a significant chain of biological changes that can damage their future health.

In turn, this increases the likelihood of tumours, heart conditions and respiratory diseases like asthma and less fatal, but discomforting and irritating allergies, rashes and suchlike.

Professor Michael Hyland, who teaches health psychology at the University’s School of Psychology, led the study. He said: “Early life stress in the form of trauma and abuse is known to creating long term changes that predispose to later disease.

“But this study shows that in a society where corporal punishment is considered normal, the use of corporal punishment is sufficiently stressful to have the same kinds of long term impact as abuse and trauma.

“Our research adds a new perspective on the increasing evidence that the use of corporal punishment can contribute to childhood stress, and when it becomes a stressor, corporal punishment contributes to poor outcomes both for the individual concerned and for society.”

While Prof. Hyland seems to have encapsulated the dangers of corporal punishment in words, as if it were a new discovery, we only need to ask ourselves when has it been right for adults to vent their frustrations, demonstrate their own shortcomings and show their ignorance and hypocrisy by beating children with sticks, fists, leather belts, bamboo canes; kicking, pinching, taping their mouths, pulling their hair and ears, mocking, ridiculing, embarrassing, swearing, cursing, belittling, making a child look foolish in any way or to humiliate the child in front of others. It just isn`t right in any enlightened, civilized society and gives a legacy to the nation of deformed, scarred, maimed, broken children – and that’s only on the exterior.

The disturbed world within their brain is one of hatred, resentment, anger and feeling worthless which could trigger their suicide.

It is near impossible not to admire an honourable dedicated teacher. One who walks through the village town or city with a clear conscience his shoulders held back, his head erect, and blessing his pupils with smiles and kind words of encouragement with each step.

Every teacher who performs as he ought and encourages and respects his pupils, as he ought, is rewarded with lifetime respect, admiration, gratitude and blessings.

When the teaching profession is criticised for its inhumanity towards humanity through corporal punishment the honourable teachers, unfortunately, although innocent, suffer as a consequence.

They are tainted and given a bad name by those who view teaching as a mere job, a monthly pay cheque, and with little or no interest in the progress of the individual in their charge.

When business houses talk about ‘long-term investments’ they’re referring usually to an input of cash into something that they consider will grow and reap rewards in the future.

What needs to be realized is that every child born in Bangladesh is a ‘long-term investment’.

Schools should not be hell-hole fear factories where the once-in-a-lifetime – never again to be repeated ­– God-given gift of youth, fun and joy is beaten out; and hatred, anger, despise of society and revenge is beaten-in.

Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md Sheikh Hasan Arif of the High Court Divisional bench defined corporal punishment as ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child`s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom’.

Teachers are perhaps the most important instrument for nation-building and must be respected, seen to be different and given special consideration due to the nature of their job, as a mother is to a child.

It is they who prepare the foundation stone on which great nations are built. They are the ones that shape the lives of their pupils from the cradle to the grave and fashion the society in which we live… and the society in which we would want to live.

Every child needs to be recognized as an integral and important part of any great nation, and it stands to reason that the system will always be flawed if those who are teaching it are themselves incompetent, poorly trained and incapable of delivery.

If we want a preview of what Bangladesh will be like 30-40-50-years from now, we only need to check out the education system. All the warning signs are there now.

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