School children are exposed to more physical harm from teachers than from other children, a UN report shows. The Unicef End Violence In School report was released on Tuesday last week. It said children in secondary and primary schools are harmed more through caning and bullying by teachers than by from fellow students.
The report shows nearly 720 million students are at risk in schools, where caning is not fully prohibited. Another half of the world’s teens experience peer violence in and around school. One in three students aged 13–15 are bullied.
Despite records of bullying and harassment by peers, the report shows younger children are punished more often. In addition to physical punishment, other cruel forms of punishment include actions that belittle, threaten, scare or ridicule a child.
Caning was banned in 2001 after the Children’s Act took effect in a gazette notice dated March 13, 2001. However, it did not spell out alternatives to caning. Most schools continue to cane and physically punish children, sometimes causing deaths.
“The repercussions of violence can become imprinted on a child’s body and mind in the form of physical injury, sexually transmitted infections, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and unplanned pregnancy,” the report says. “For some children, bullying, sexual assault or daily fear in school has led to death.” Kenya Parents’ Association chairman Nicholas Maiyo said corporal punishment has led to serious injuries and deaths.
Psychiatrist Silas Kiriinya said adolescents subjected to frequent caning become rebellious. “Corporal punishment inflicts fear. It has been one of the leading causes of truancy and could lead to an increase in dropouts,” he said on the phone.
Kiriinya said the disciplinary methods also impact students’ academic achievement and long-term well-being. study by Human Rights Watch in 2010 showed in countries where corporal punishment is frequently used, students perform worse academically. The report said caning affects every student in school, including those who are not personally subjected to hitting. The use of physical violence against students creates an unfriendly atmosphere, it said.