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‘Corporal punishment, redundant attempt to correct errant behaviour’

Corporal punishment is not only out-dated and archaic, experts have suggested that there are more appropriate corrective measures that have positive effects on child growth and development, reports OLUCHI CHIDOBI


Over time corporal punishment on school children in Nigeria have decreased drastically as most people, including parents/ guardians and government agencies such as ministries of education, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), continue to work towards abating corporal punishments in schools both in Nigeria and the world at large. defines corporal punishment as the physical punishment such as spanking inflicted on a child by an adult in authority.



In other words, corporal punishments in schools can be seen as those physical drills or abuse such as flogging, slapping, kicking, among others meted on students.

These harsh punishments meted on the school children have caused more damage than the good it was supposed to do. Originally corporal punishments were incorporated in the school system for the sole purpose to discipline students, who default, but contrary to these correctional reasons, teachers punish young school children and even in some cases the children become extremely injured.

A typical example of such an incident is the story of a two-year old girl named Cherish Ohamadike in Maza-Maza area of Mile 2 in Lagos State, who was thoroughly flogged by her class teacher for her inability to recite alphabets correctly.

It was alleged that she was given 24 strokes of the cane on her back which left her feeling sick and in severe pains till her mother Mrs Faustina Ohamadike discovered and took her to the hospital for treatment.

After the doctor made enquiries to know what had caused the pains, he angrily reported the incident to the authorities so that the teacher will be brought to book.


19-month-old boy flogged

Another of such pathetic stories again is one of a 19-month-old boy by name Obinna in Delta State who  was allegedly given 31 strokes of the cane by his teacher for playing with water and getting wet. It was also alleged that he fell into a coma after receiving the 31 strokes of the cane from the teacher and eventually died from it five days later.

A boy was also given a corporal punishment in a private school in Alagbado area of Lagos State; in his case he was brutally beaten with a wood in the presence of his class mates for leaving the classroom without informing his teacher. Another one was a young boy in an Arabic school in Kwara State, who was flogged simultaneously by four male teachers for disobeying his class teacher.

The list of these absurd stories is endless, as there are many students who do not even tell their parents or guardians when they are subjected to severe punishments. Experts have also come out to extensively educate the general public that corporal punishments given to young school children at these peaks of their lives could have an after effect on the children even into their adulthood.


Specialists have also said that a lot of the behaviour that many adults exhibit could be as a result of the kind of punishment they received in the name of discipline when they defaulted as children in school. In a telephone interview, a sociologist, Rev. Bola Nuga described corporal punishment as a series of correctional methods like flogging, kneeling down, slapping or asking students to kneel in the sun, etc. for breaking some school rules.


That corporal punishment is a situation where students who have erred are made to go through some hard punishment or task or in some cases flogged to serve as a deterrent to them or others subsequently times,” Nuga said. He further said that corporal punishment is not really necessary in inculcating discipline into young children in schools.

“Even the bible said that in the heart of a child lies madness and that the rod will strike it away does not mean that for a teacher or a parent in some cases to correct a defaulting child that it has to be a corporal punishment.”

Negative effects


He also stated that corporal punishment have a lot of negative effects in children even till adulthood. According to Rev. Nuga, a lot of adults perceive corporal punishment as the ideal way to inculcate discipline into children in school because basically life is about perception.

They grew up to teachers correcting students with great anger and harsh punishments and so they continue to grow with that idea and eventually treat the students in their care in the same manner.

Consequently, this makes a child grow with anger, fear and eventually becomes more stubborn and stiff because he will believe that whenever he errs he will simply be flogged or roughly punished which on a long run will reflect in the life of such a child in adulthood.

Speaking further, he said that when chil  dren grow with such anger and stubbornness, it will indirectly contribute to the academic failure of such a child because the youngster will have an aversion for such a teacher and the subjects they teach which will in turn make them not to perform well academically.


He then advised that all schools in Nigeria should ensure they set up some kind of workshop to properly train teachers on how to properly correct children and to also find a means to evaluate them psychologically and know that they are mentally balanced.


He further advised that teachers should also be monitored from time to time, to make sure that they don’t correct children out of anger; and that parents should also be invited and advised to abate corporal punishments at home as the saying goes “charity begins at home”.

Lastly Rev. Nuga encouraged teachers to embrace a calmer way when reprimanding or correcting a child so that they do not grow to become violent adults; that teachers and even parents should indulge more in dialogue that is calmly sitting a defaulting child down and making them know how they wronged and the consequences of what they did.

Speaking on the same topic, a Clinical Psychologist, Mr Akin Gabriel had a lot to say on the issue. “Corporal punishment is any form of punishment that is intended to cause pain. It mostly consists of canning, assuming  various painful positions that will cause pain on the child. “It is used with the erroneous belief to correct bad behaviours,” he said.

Out dated

Gabriel stated that corporal punishment is out dated, archaic and a redundant attempt to correct errant behaviours. “It is actually counterproductive and it may not leave physical scars but emotional scars that may be difficult to heal,” he said. Akin further said that some of the psychological effects can influence adult life behaviour in a counterproductive manner.

He said that the act is perceived as wickedness by the sufferer and the inflictor is perceived as evil and may generate emotional reactions that may hamper normal development and growth.

He went ahead to reiterate that corporal punishment is not necessary to instil discipline in children and that there are more appropriate child corrective procedures that have more positive effects on growth and development.

Lastly, he advised that a reinforcement schedule that will promote growth, development and good relationship with the child and exposure to new knowledge through interaction should be practiced




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