Save the Children calls for end corporal punishment at school, after death of a student

Girls are busy in reading the book during their class at Government girls Model High School in Pakistani border town Chaman. Photo by Matiullah Achakzai.

KABUL: Save the Children, an organization active in protecting children urged the Afghan government to properly enforce its corporal punishment ban following reports that a high school student died after facing violence at school. The incident took place in the northern Afghan province of Balk three days ago.

According to a statement “This is a tragic, heartbreaking situation in which a child has died after facing violence at school, a place where children should be safe and protected, not fearing for their lives,” said Onno van Manen, country director of the Save the Children in Afghanistan.

He said that “It is an extreme example of what can happen when corporal punishment is allowed to take place despite the law saying otherwise. Sadly we know this situation is not unique. Violence as a form of punishment is all too common in many schools – and homes – in Afghanistan and it needs to stop.”

Mr. van Manen said Afghan law already outlawed the physical punishment of children at school but it needs to be enforced more strongly.

“Quite simply, violence at school in any form cannot be tolerated and Save the Children urges the Afghan government to work together with all stakeholders to bring an end to corporal punishment,” he said.

“It is important that the Ministry of Education ensures Afghan schools are a safe place for all children, and they work with teachers and parents to prevent the use of any form of physical violence. Not only does violence cause physical and emotional harm to a child, but it can also affect their long-term wellbeing and development,” he added.

In August this year Save the Children launched a new report revealing startling levels of violence, abuse and neglect still being faced by children in Afghanistan.

The study analyzed local knowledge and attitudes towards violence and harmful practices against children across five provinces of Afghanistan, including a survey of almost 1,100 children, parents, caregivers and child protection workers.

Key findings include d that  9 out of 10 child respondents had experienced some form of violence, 40 percent said they had been kicked, 21 percent choked and 15 percent burnt, scolded or branded, more than 4 in 10 adults surveyed agreed that children needed to be physically punished in order to be raised or educated properly.

“The study revealed that Afghan children are being exposed to alarming levels of violence from a really early age, which not only hinders their physical and emotional development but also increases the likelihood that they’ll use violence when they are adults,” said Mr. van Manen.

“It’s a vicious cycle that causes tremendous harm to children across the country, many of whom already live in a challenging and often insecure context. Children should be supported and protected by their families, communities and teachers so they can enjoy safe and happy childhoods.”

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