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Spare the rod and save your child | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

Spare the rod and spoil the child, goes the saying... However, with the passage of time, modern society has acknowledged the physical and psychological perils of this saying, as a result of being put into practice. And therefore, several countries have banned corporal punishment (physical punishment) for children. While Sweden was the first to do so in 1979, in late 2016, France became the 52nd country to prohibit parents from smacking their children. And now, Wales is considering to join the ranks of these countries.    

Recently, Welsh minister for children and social care, Huw Irranca-Davies, launched a 12-week consultation on the issue. He said, “We want parents to be confident in managing their children’s behaviour without feeling they must resort to physical punishment. If there is any potential risk of harm to a child, it is our obligation as a government to take action.” He added that physical punishment had been shown to have “negative long-term impacts on a child’s life chances” and was an “ineffective punishment.”

With the number of countries moving in this direction continues to soar, should India too follow in their footsteps? We asked mental health expert and some celeb moms for their opinions...


Physical punishment only leads to fear and anger; it doesn’t facilitate learning. “As adults, when we are aware of our rights and responsibilities we would not tolerate such behaviour, then how can we use such a negative behaviour with children who are young, innocent and unaware of so much more,” questions Manasi Hassan, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, tobacco treatment specialist.

“There is a dire need to have such a law in our country. Parents often don’t know where to draw the line when it comes to physical punishment. Most parents often use physical punishment as the only means to handle academic, behavioural and emotional concerns in children. Smacking/hitting only leads to emotional, mental and physical abuse,” reasons Hassan. She adds that majority of our public schools use physical punishment as the only medium to modify behaviour. Although private schools are strict about the fact that physical punishment is not an option, there have been instances where physical punishment has been used and gone wrong.


Television host Mini Mathur, who’s a mother to son Vivaan (14) and daughter Sanya (nine), is of the opinion that India should absolutely follow suit and that corporal punishment for children in all forms should be banned in and outside of schools as well. “In fact, India should do so more than any other country. There’s so much of child abuse, child labour and violence against children here. If we don’t invest in our children by protecting them physically and mentally, what future are we providing them? Economic disparity is at its worst in our country, where we  think about the overindulgent affluent kids who comprise just two per cent of the population. Their parents can afford to seek professional help and mental health experts to correct their child’s behaviour but what about the rest? The ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ is a very urban concept. Countless children are beaten up by masterjis at school, by parents and elders in the vast rural areas. We’re living in a cruel world. A slap on a child’s face is not just a physical rebuke but also erodes self-esteem and self-confidence. Therefore, I believe corporal punishment in all forms should be banned,” she says adding that she would love to campaign for such an initiative.


Mom to Ananya (19) and Rysa (13), Bhavana Pandey, also, agrees that India should steer in that direction. She says, “There’s a thin line between punishment and abuse and sometimes schools, educational institutions as well as parents can get carried away. So who’s going to define the balance between the two? Parents should speak up to school authorities if a teacher strikes their child. How is it in the power of educational institutions to raise hands on children? Even parents have gone too far beating up their children in villages. How do we keep a check on them? This rule of banning corporal punishment for children is not to prevent parents and schools from disciplining but rather to prevent misuse of authority.” 


Actress Mandira Bedi who’s a mom to son Vir (six), too, favours banning corporal punishment for children. “Yes, it should be banned in schools and by parents as well. Doing so causes severe trauma to children and can make them feel humiliated and depressed. There are other ways to discipline children, I never raised my hand on my son and don’t ever see myself doing it,” she says.   


TV host Maria Goretti and mother to son Zeke (13) and daughter Zene (10), is all for banning corporal punishment for children in schools and other educational institutions but when it comes to parents, she’s not sure. She explains, “Sometimes, I have given a little whack on their bums but it’s not like I have caned them or hit them with a ruler like they did in schools during my time. I have been slapped only once during my school days but I would not be okay if school authorities did that to my kids. You can keep the child behind in class and send them later but corporal punishment is a no-no. As for parents, we don’t smack children beyond a certain age, like when they reach eight or nine years of age. They threaten the child with a spank to instill a bit of fear and to discipline them but don’t do it.” She recounts the case of her friend in London whose son threatened to call the police when she tried to discipline him. “It’s weird. I wouldn’t want to face a situation like that.” 

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