Pros and cons of punishment in teaching

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Teaching children to recognize and control their behavior is an important job for the adults in their lives. How adults respond to a child’s behaviors has lasting effects on her development. It shapes how the child thinks, behaves, feels and interacts with others. It also teaches the child how to behave as an adult. Discipline teaches kids what is acceptable. When children are taught how to control their behaviors, they learn how to avoid harm.

Teachers in schools and parents in homes use punishment as one of the most important tool for controlling student’s behavior and discipline. Form the psychological point of view, punishment is defined to as anything that decreases the occurrence of a behavior; physical pain, withdraw of attention, loss of tangibles or activities, a reprimand or even something others would find rewarding, but the particular individual does not like. One of the main goals of punishment is to invoke fear in the student, so that the behavior does not occur again. In the school, teachers punish students for being late to school, for not following the school rules, for not doing classroom assignment and for failure to perform better in tests and examinations and the like.

The kind of punishment given in response to these behaviors includes, caning the child, giving them physical labour such as watering school gardens, farming, kneeling on concrete stones, walking on knees, doing push-ups in the sun and carrying several buckets of sand. School is not the only place where children get punished. At home they are also beaten by their parents when they do not go to school, stealing and the like. Children at home are punished by their parents through food denial, burning hands with fire for stealing and being chased away from home to go to sleep in the bush.

Despite the fact that, punishment seems to be an appropriate technique to control behavior and student disciplines, the UN Convention on the Right of the Child recognized that, corporal punishment employed by teachers and parents in schools and homes seems to be ineffective, dangerous and unacceptable method of discipline as it brings negative rather than positive impacts to learners. Due to these impacts, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child declared corporal punishment to be banned. The Article 28 (2) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the child (1989) states the need to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner that is consistent with the child human dignity and in conformity with this Convention. Thus, severe punishment in this regard is acknowledged to be beyond violation of the fundamental rights to the child as it may cause pain, injury, humiliation, anxiety and anger that could have long term psychological effects.

Due to this fact, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the monitoring body of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child have emphasized that, human rights requires the elimination of all corporal punishment however light and other cruel or degrading punishment. In response to this Convention, several countries have declared themselves to abolish corporal punishment in schools. Despite the changes in the rules related to corporal punishment, the practice of corporal punishment is still common in Tanzanian schools whereby pupils are beaten, kicked, slapped, thrown against the wall and humiliated. This situation brings a lot of negative impacts to child learning and general mental health.

Generally punishment in schools seems to be ineffective, dangerous and unacceptable method of controlling and maintaining behavior and discipline as it brings negative rather than positive consequences in the whole process of teaching and learning. Physical punishment (corporal) punishment seems to increase child aggression, increase antisocial behavior, lower intellectual achievements, enhance poor quality of parent/teacher student relation and cause mental health problem. Since punishment tend to de-humanize children and make them feel screed, ashamed and worthless during learning and teaching process, it is better to be eliminated in both homes and schools so s to enhance positive learning. It should be also abolished because it is interfering worth student’s right to be treated with dignity and as a result is interfering with their right to a quality education. However, when a teacher or parent feels it necessary to use punishment, he/she should focus on the important tips (guidelines) in order to make it effective towards student behavior change. Nevertheless, more effort needs to be made to educate parents and teachers on the implication of corporal punishment as well as the alternatives that are available to them. It is important to note that, good school discipline depend not only on non-violent responses to poor student behavior, but on skilled and properly trained teachers.

By Jhonalyn Galano Salida

The opinions and suggestions contained in this article are solely of the author and doesn’t necessarily reflect the stance of Baguio Herald Express management and staff.