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    Volume 10 |Issue 38 | October 07, 2011 |


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Ending Legalised Brutality


America might be perceived to be the number one country and respected in many regards, but not when it comes to corporal punishment in schools for which it still holds an excusable, deplorable record of legalised brutality against its young citizens. Although three out of four Americans oppose the barbaric practice that holds the country in an antiquated time-warp-like state of 'spare the stick and spoil the child' stupidity and ignorance, legalised bullying, and oppression; 19 states still allow school personnel to beat students.

On January 13, 2011, the Bangladesh High Court Divisional bench comprising of Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md Sheikh Hasan Arif outlawed corporal punishment in Bangladesh schools and declared corporal punishment to be “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, Photo: courtesy

What makes an American child any different to a Bangladeshi child, especially under the watchful eyes of Allah? Don't all deserve equal rights and equal opportunities to a peaceful, respectful and dignified life without legalised and shameful gratuitous inhuman cruelty? The honourable High Court of Bangladesh, unfortunately, has no jurisdiction in the United States of America. It's wisdom applies, but not its laws.

Fortunately, American children do have someone who cares and who is speaking out against the inhuman practice in the 19 states on their behalf, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. Congresswoman McCarthy, a qualified nurse, who has put heavy emphasis on public health and safety issues since joining Congress in 1997, will introduce the “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act,” in Congress this week and, if passed, change the lives of millions of children forever in America for the better.

“There are two Americas out there for young students right now – one where they go to school knowing that they'll be guided positively by caring adults, and one where they live in constant fear of getting beaten,” she said.

“Bullying is enough of a problem among students; the teachers shouldn't be doing it, too. There's nothing positive or productive about corporal punishment and it should be discouraged everywhere.” Over 200,000 students are victims of corporal punishment in America every year. African-American children and children with disabilities experience corporal punishment at disproportionately high rates. Many are punished for their behaviour arising out of their disabilities, such as autism or Tourette's syndrome, because many teachers fail to recognise their disabilities.

Ever since the campaign to abolish corporal punishment in Bangladesh schools began, Congresswoman McCarthy has been closely following its progress.

Just over a year ago Barrister Sara Hossain of Dr Kamal Hossain's law chambers filed a petition in the High Court on behalf of the social conscience organisations Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and its sister Human Rights Organisation Ain O'Salish Kendra (ASK), advocating the abolition of corporal punishment in all schools. The barrister cited 14 separate incidents of severe canings, beatings, teachers chaining the legs of boys and girls, forcible cutting off hair, confinement and a 10-year-old boy who committed suicide following an horrific beating at school.

No longer is it lawful or acceptable for a teacher to strike, verbally abuse, discriminate against, or threaten any child in a Bangladesh school.

So far the law exists on paper only – it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. The law needs to be vigorously enforced by the school authorities, parents, and law enforcing agencies. No evidence exists anywhere in the world that shows corporal punishment is better than other discipline strategies for changing school behavior, only the exact opposite.

You don't have to be an Einstein to figure out that corporal punishment is wrong and serves no useful purpose to child or society. It's taken the Government of Bangladesh 40 years to figure this out, but at least it arrived at the right conclusion eventually, whereas many America states still have their head stuck deep in the sands of ignorance.

The banning of corporal punishment is an act of commonsense. You cannot beat love, respect or knowledge into anyone, but you can succeed in beating-in hatred for all authority and bad behaviour of the worst kind that threatens all of society.

Respect commands respect. Corporal punishment commands no respect. It only teaches violence and ingrains despise and hatred. The 19 shameful states where corporal punishment in schools is currently legal in America are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming.

I wish Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy speedy success.



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