Over 76% parents favour corporal punishment


Over 76 percent parents in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province believe that moderate punishment is important to discipline children, whereas child right activists stress the elimination of corporal punishment at schools. The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child has conducted a baseline recently that reveals 76 percent parents from Peshawar, Swabi, Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera districts are in favour of moderate punishment to discipline their children.
Talking to Pakistan Today, SPARC Assistant Manager Gulnaz Zahid said that any state’s legislation could shape the attitude and practices of that society and hence an explicit ban on corporal punishment at schools was of great importance. And that process, she said, must be supported by raising awareness on the harms of corporal punishment. “If corporal punishment is eliminated from home, it will support its elimination from all settings, and in connection with this, the SPARC strongly suggests the need to repeal Section 89 of Pakistan Penal Code (1860), which allows a mild to moderate corporal punishment by the guardian to discipline a child below 12,” she explained.
This ambiguous legislation had also led to the gaps in newer legislations regarding the issue, she added. She said to bridge that gaps, the SPARC was pushing an anti-corporal punishment bill in Sindh, with a resolve to eliminate the practise from other social settings. The SPARC has also established 75 punishment-free schools in Peshawar, Swabi, Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera and the organisation is also conducting teacher trainings in seven tehsils in coordination with the Rawalpindi Education Department, she said, adding that Imtiaz Ahmed and she have also conducted a follow-up consultation with the education department, to sensitise it against the corporal punishment.
However, along with all the legislations to support a clear ban on corporal punishment in all settings, SPARC is also working to eliminate corporal punishment from home and schools through various interventions. Case studies of corporal punishment in home setting are seldom reported. A baseline survey being conducted in Nowshera reveals that in some cases children had received harsh punishments for not obeying their parents. Focus group discussions with children reveal that they receive punishment from both the mother and the father, which shows importance of trainings and awareness raising on positive parenting. Realizing the prevalence of corporal punishment from home, SPARC has started a pilot project in Nowshera.
In a master training to promote positive parenting, Maulana Samiur Rehman was selected as a lead trainer to bring the attitudinal change in ten union councils of Nowshera. During the parent training sessions in ten union councils of Nowshera, i.e., Nowshera Cantt, Mughalki, Nizam Pur, Akora Khattak, Pabbi, Mohib Banda, Manki Sharif, Inzari, Azakhel and Kheshgi, various types of corporal punishment and violence against children were highlighted by the participants, which included severe beating, abusing, stopping children from going to school and early child marriage. According to SPARC, the project team of Nowshera is making efforts to win the support of clerics and madrassa heads of Nowshera to eliminate corporal punishment at least from at home. In the first phase, Pakistan Today learnt, above 300 fathers will be sensitised about positive parenting and in the second phase will involve mothers.
To bring a sustainable change, the ADOs from education department and clerics are being involved in the initiative, she said. This project aims to bringing the attitudinal and behavioural change through earning support from religious leaders as they are in the best position to convince a layman through briefing child rights with special reference to Quran in Jumma sermons.