Declare physical punishment on pupils illegal

  • Letters
  • Thursday, 02 May 2019

I REFER to the report “Teacher who allegedly caned student 22 times still allowed to teach” (TheStarOnline, April 30).

I am an ordinary Malaysian citizen who attended government schools for 11 years. I have fond memories of my school years, especially during high school. I particularly enjoyed learning when I was having fun. I scored better in subjects in classes I enjoyed attending, and this was heavily dependent on who taught the subject and how the lessons were delivered.

As a child, I liked to learn with activities. When I look back now, I still think that having fun is the best way to learn.

From time to time, cases of child abuse by teachers make the headlines. Public opinion is usually split when it comes to this issue. After all, when we were children, we all did get a tiny whack when we misbehaved, didn’t we?

There are various arguments out there for and against corporal punishment, but I urge the Education Ministry to address this issue in the light of new data that are available. While corporal punishment provides an immediate resolution for a misbehaving child, it may inflict long-term damage on the young person’s psychology while encouraging the use of violence as a solution.

Children deserve to be in a safe and protected environment, hence I hope to see schools in Malaysia as a sanctuary for all of them. Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states: “Governments should ensure that children are properly cared for and protect them from violence, abuse, and neglect by their parents, or anyone else who looks after them.”

Currently, there are no strict laws preventing the use of physical means to punish children in school. Is it legal to hit children to discipline them? Is it okay to cane a pupil once? What about caning him/her 22 times? What if the case is not reported? There should be legal guidelines on what is allowed and what is not, otherwise corporal punishment on pupils will keep on happening.

Teachers are trained professionals who play a significant role in the community by shaping young minds. For such a respectable and noble profession, there should be a code of conduct for teachers to observe. They should also receive basic training on adolescent mental health before being allowed to teach, just like a mechanic should know how a machine works before attempting to fix it.

To reiterate, I think an official agreement or document should be drawn up on the steps to follow when using physical means to punish children in school.

Hopefully, physical punishment would be made illegal given the negative effects of such action. From experience, I know the best way to learn is to have fun while we are at it. To move forward, we should acknowledge the old ways but also introduce new ideas with a vision to improve. This is my little idea with big hopes for our new Malaysia.



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