By Adedapo Adesanya
The Lagos State government has warned against all forms of corporal punishment in schools, insisting it will not accept such punishment from anywhere.
The Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, reaffirmed this during a scientific conference of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, on the subject of Yaba Corporal punishment in the modern African context: examining the scientific evidence behind corporal punishment.
The event came after a Junior Secondary 2 student of Simple Faith Schools, Agbara, Lagos State, Emmanuel Amidu died after being punished by a teacher.
Ms Adefisayo, represented by Ms Adumasi Bosede, director at the ministry, denounced the prevalence of corporal punishment in schools and homes, noting that it has generally not ended well.
According to her, there are cases where corporal punishment inflicted on students has resulted in the death of the child or student involved.
“There have been occasions when corporal punishment inflicted by a teacher on a child in the form of flogging or bullying ultimately resulted in the death of the child, thereby implicating the teacher.
“To prevent such horrific incidents, including other negative effects of corporal punishment; there is a policy in Lagos State prohibiting teachers from inflicting corporal punishment on students and pupils in schools.
“In the meantime, there are other alternative ways of disciplining and correcting children, which are adopted in schools,” she said.
ARD President Dr Samuel Aladejare described corporal punishment as one of the burning issues in today’s society as it was prevalent in schools, homes and even workplaces.
In his address, Dr Aladejare said there was an urgent need to tackle this issue, with a view to ending all forms of corporal punishment in society.
“The Scientific Conference is one of the programs used by the association to identify, discuss and propose solutions to pressing issues in society through the assistance of experts and seasoned professionals in the medical field.
“So, I am confident that the guests, experts, scholars and professionals here present will adequately deliberate on the topics,” he said.
Dr Tolulope Bella-Awusah, Head of Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCH, Ibadan, said corporal punishment is not good for a child’s mental health and brain functioning.
Dr Bella-Awusah said what children need is discipline, not punishment, adding that corporal punishment includes but is not limited to slapping, spanking, bullying, flogging, beating and pinches.
According to her, in society; corporal punishment is used to train, discipline and correct bad behavior in children to no avail.
“Scientifically, the use of corporal punishment such as flogging or beating is not an effective way to correct children because it makes them aggressive, drug-dependent or stubborn in life.
“So there is no need to beat children with the intention of correcting them because its effects will show up later in life,” she said.
A consultant psychiatrist at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Yaba, Dr Olugbenga Owoeye, said social privilege deprivation measures could be used to correct and discipline children rather than corporal punishment.
According to him, parents, teachers and caregivers can deprive the child of certain privileges if the child does not do what is expected of him.
The Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Dr Babatunde Salako, said corporal punishment had become a societal norm, which would be difficult to stop.
“Nigerian society uses corporal punishment to correct bad behavior in children.
“The truth is that there are certain bad behaviors that if you don’t apply corporal punishment, such a child may not stop or change their bad habits.
“No matter what you do, people will keep locking up their kids and beating them if they do bad things. There is therefore a need for more scientific evidence on why corporal punishment should be stopped,” said Dr Salako.