Thursday, February 20, 2020


Spare the Child, Spoil the Rod
IFP Bureau | First Published: December 28, 2019 01:04:54 am
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In recent times, citizens have voiced their concerns against crimes perpetrated on women and minors in the State. However, an underlying fact that remains unquestioned is that of corporal punishment meted out to children of all genders in the name of tradition, regardless of its negative consequences.

The age old adage “spare the rod, spoil the child” implies that if parents refuse to discipline an unruly child, that child will grow accustomed to getting his/her own ways. Traditionally, we have been made to believe that a child who has not been disciplined through corporal punishment will obviously become a spoiled brat or a wayward individual. Not much attention has been given to the psychological impact of such a tradition that can cause long term damage in the emotional quotient of a person.

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Even though, physical punishment given to a child has been long considered an effective method; and even necessary, means of socialising children, research have revealed that this method is a predictor of a wide range of negative developmental outcomes. Physical punishment has been indicated to be associated with increased child aggression, antisocial behaviour, lower intellectual achievement, poorer quality of parent–child relationships, mental health including depression and diminished moral internalisation.

The evidence about whether physical punishment results in short-term compliance is mixed, with some studies showing effectiveness in achieving this and others not. Short-term compliance can, however, be achieved as effectively without using physical punishment. But the fact remains that physical punishment has negative impact on a child, especially if it is harsh, regardless of culture. Despite the usage of punishment as normative in a culture; the effects are slightly less negative. Research findings have supported the use of more positive methods of parenting and the removal of a defence in law for the use of physical punishment against children.

It was only a few days back when the Education minister of the State said that “Schools should be a place where children can find hope an also understand the views of the students and approaches of the students to be able to guide them”.

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However, he failed to address the issue of corporal punishment meted out to students which only provide anguish and anxiety to the students. And more importantly, there were incidences of harsh corporal punishments meted out by teachers and administrators to students for trivial reasons such as keeping long hair and innocently handling a World War II artifact. The authorities have no worries whether their actions will have negative consequences or not. They seem to be only concerned about enforcing their “disciplinary duties.” And these are one of the primary reasons why the education system has become a major failure.

Much hullabaloo has been raised by educational institutes about the success of few students in a disingenuous way to promote their effort when they rather seem to either forget or ignore the fates of students who failed to achieve such standards. This is rather a case of hypocrisy on the part of the educational establishments concerned which has led to academically weak students being ignored as if they are failures of an experiment conducted by a mad scientist.

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In fact, these double standards not only apply to academic institutions but also to homes where children are subject to corporal punishments by parents in order to comply with “society standards.” The fact that children imitate actions and a ‘fear of the stick’ is not a sound principle is ignored. ‘Fear of the stick’ is not knowledge but a ‘carrot and stick’ policy which will only lead to adverse consequences. And this has often been the case of youths going wayward in later years when they become rebellious enough. So, it is high time now that parents and teachers discard the out-dated norm of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ and stick to ‘spoil the rod and spare the child’.

Leader Writer – Danny Haobam

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