The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said 85 percent of Nigerian children between the ages of 1 and 14 experience violent discipline in schools, with nearly 1 in 3 children experiencing severe physical punishment.
This came to limelight on Tuesday in Abuja through UNICEF Chief of Education, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan at a two-day National Awareness Creation Meeting on Ending Corporal Punishment in schools, organised by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN) in collaboration with UNICEF.
Panday-Soobrayan described the discussion on ending corporal punishment in schools as “difficult and heart-breaking,” stating that the presence of participants at the meeting was a testament to Nigeria’s determination to uphold every child’s right to safety, well-being and quality, inclusive education.
This is a staggering statistics, colleagues, one that demands urgent action and is indicative of a crisis! “Much of this violent discipline takes place in the form of corporal punishment in the very institutions that are entrusted to keep children safe, develop respect for human rights and prepare them for life in a society that promotes understanding peace, and conflict resolution through dialogue,” she said.
According to her, the persistence of these practices contradicts Nigeria’s National Policy on Safety, Security and Violence-Free Schools, that commits to zero-tolerance to any threat to the security of life and property in schools.
Panday-Soobrayan also noted that the practice “stalling Nigeria’s progress toward SDG 3 to ensure good health and well-being, SDG 4 on equitable and inclusive quality education and target 16.2 (to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children).”
While noting the impact of corporal punishment on children is devastating, she lamented that children are left with both physical and psychological wounds.
“Physical punishment causes not only pain, sadness, fear, shame, and anger but is also linked with children’s hyperreactivity to stress, changes in brain structure and function, and overloaded nervous, cardiovascular, and nutritional systems. Spanking, just like more severe abuse, is linked to atypical brain function. “
The damage is not only acute, affecting their learning in the current moment, but also chronic.
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A large body of research links physical punishment with long-term disability or death; mental ill-health; impaired cognitive and socio-emotional development; school dropout and poorer academic and occupational outcomes; increased antisocial behaviour, aggression, and criminal behaviour in adulthood; and damaged relationships through its intergenerational transmission.”
Some of the dignitaries that were present at the event include the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by Hajia Binta Abdulkadir, and the Registrar of TRCN, Prof Josiah Ajiboye who also spoke on tactical ways of ending corporal punishments in Nigerian schools.