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Corporal Punishment: Ineffective and Dangerous

The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children will be presented on 11 October 2006 from 3 to 6p.m. (EST) to the 3rd Committee of the United Nations General Assembly.

UNESCO participated in the preparation of the report with an analysis of violence in education and corporal punishment in schools.

Linda King, a UNESCO expert in Human Rights Education says the problem is global, but there are solutions.

Interview by Edna Yahil, UNESCO's Bureau of Public Information.

Question: How prevalent is the problem of corporal punishment in schools?

Corporal punishment in schools is a common experience in the lives of large numbers of children and young people across the world. There is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that corporal punishment is not justified as an educational or disciplinary tool. To date, 102 countries have banned corporal punishment in school, but enforcement is uneven.

Question: What are the other forms of violence in schools?

Playground fighting and bullying is a big problem that can incorporate both verbal and physical abuse. Sexual and gender-based violence is also a reality in many cultures.

Question: What is the solution?

In preparing for the Report, UNESCO had three major conclusions. First, there is a human rights imperative for ending all corporal punishment in schools. Second, research has demonstrated that corporal punishment is counterproductive, relatively ineffective, dangerous and harmful. Finally, we also looked at ways forward to constructive child discipline that do not involve the physical humiliation of the child and the violation of the child’s rights. These might include: involving learners and their parents in decisions about codes of conduct, providing guidance in the selection of positive peer models, family meetings and inter-generational dialogue, or exploring ethical-moral meanings and implications in current events.

Question: How does this Report fit into UNESCO’s priorities in Education?

It falls within UNESCO’s work on Human Rights Education, which ensures that the basic principles of Human Rights are put into practice in schools. That means not only getting the messages about the principles of tolerance and respect for others into the curriculum, but also ensuring that children are able to receive respect as human beings within the school setting itself.

Question: What role did children play in the development of the Report?

A key feature of this report was the participation of children from all regions of the world as active partners. This marks the first time that children were consulted for a UN study.

When the Report is presented on 11 October before the General Assembly, 21 young people from 18 different countries will come and speak with high-level officials. There will be a spontaneous exchange between the young people and ambassadors, ministers, and other high-level people. The idea is that the children will say “What are you going to do?” and “How are we going to address this problem together?”

In addition, there is also going to be a child-friendly version of the Report that can help children and adolescents learn more about the issue of violence and what they can do to effect change.

UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children

Eliminating Corporal Punishment
UNESCO Background Study

Positive Discipline in the Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Classroom
From UNESCO Bangkok

UNESCO and Human Rights


Photo: © UNESCO
Publication Date 11-10-2006 3:00 pm
Source Bureau of Public Information
Publication Date 11-10-2006 3:00 pm
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