Six Steps Pakistan Can Take to End Corporal Punishment of Children

Ending Corporal Punishment: A Crucial Step Towards Protecting Children’s Rights in Pakistan

By Mudassar Ahmad Tahir

“Corporal punishment not only violates children’s rights but also hinders their physical, emotional, and psychological development.” – Mudassar Ahmad Tahir, GNRC Country Communications Associate (GCCA)

Corporal punishment is defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. It has long been a controversial issue in child upbringing and education. The International Day for Ending Corporal Punishment Against Children, celebrated annually on April 30, serves as a poignant reminder of the global commitment to eradicate this harmful practice to ensure the safety and well-being of every child.

In Pakistan, corporal punishment of children, including emotional abuse, at home and in school, remains a concern that requires urgent attention and action. Pakistan ratified the UNCRC in 1990, committing to protect children from all forms of violence, including corporal punishment, but implementation and enforcement remain a challenge. The main reason behind this is a lack of awareness and understanding of alternative, positive discipline methods. Many parents and educators believe physical punishment is necessary to discipline children and correct behavior. This misconception often has severe consequences for children, affecting their self-esteem, mental health, and overall well-being.

Normalization of corporal punishment also has broader social implications for future generations in Pakistan. It perpetuates a cycle of violence. Children who experience physical punishment are more likely to inflict the same abuse on others in the future. To end this cycle, we must recognize that discipline does not require physical or emotional violence.

Positive discipline strategies, such as communication, setting clear expectations, rewarding positive behavior, and providing guidance and support, are effective alternatives that promote healthy child development and strengthen the parent-child or teacher-student relationships.

To end corporal punishment against children in Pakistan, a multi-faceted, six-step approach is needed that will:

  1. Strengthen existing laws and policies to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, including homes, schools, and institutions. 
  2. Strengthen reporting and referral mechanisms to effectively address cases of abuse and corporal punishment.
  3. Raise awareness within schools and communities on positive discipline practices and children’s rights.
  4. Educate and support parents, teachers, and caregivers to adopt positive parenting and non-violent discipline techniques, as well as build their capacity to handle challenging behaviors in constructive ways.
  5. Involve children in discussions and decision-making processes related to their well-being and protection. Empower them to voice their opinions and concerns about issues affecting them directly.
  6. Engage communities, religious leaders, and civil society organizations in advocacy to end corporal punishment and promote a culture of non-violence and respect for children’s rights.

By taking concerted and sustained actions at the individual, community, and institutional levels, Pakistan can move closer to fulfilling its commitments to protect children from all forms of violence and ensure their right to a safe and nurturing environment for growth and development. 

It is time to end the cycle of corporal punishment and pave the way for a brighter and more compassionate future for Pakistan’s children. 

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