As parents, we send our children to school to develop, learn, grow and make friends. Most parents look at educational institutions with trust, which makes sense, who would send their children to a place that cannot be trusted, after all? But this is exactly what happens in various institutions, and the phenomenon of “schools are the perpetrators” is not new, but we are more aware of it now, and everyone should be.
Teachers cannot save their students from the pandemic; that is absolutely clear; we are fighting an invisible enemy, but what other invisible things have happened since the pandemic started? We have seen people being openly racist or homophobic. The disheartening fact is that more and more students are being verbally attacked by their own teachers or neglected at school.
Teachers as fighters
Teachers are trained not only to teach but also to fight against social scourges or at least to save their students from them. Our children spend most of their time with their teachers and not at home, and I think that when you take responsibility as a teacher, it is not limited to teaching. Still, you are also responsible for each and every student in your class or at least on the school premises.
Violence is not the answer to everything. If teachers are unwilling to reconsider the use of violence against students – if they haven’t had that conversation with themselves – they are not willing to advocate for change in education policy.
The right of children
There are different laws on corporal punishment in different states. Corporal punishment is any form of punishment that causes pain or suffering to a child. These laws also depend on whether the school is private or public. Nineteen US states currently allow public school staff to use corporal punishment on children from the beginning of pre-school through the completion of grade 12: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
What can teachers do?
Not all teachers are in a position of power; some are obliged to abide by laws, but what can be done to make a difference? If there are cases of corporal punishment in a school that are abusive in some way and that do not suit you, it is important to report it. Talk to your colleagues who have the same attitude as you and tell them to come forward and report any kind of abuse of power towards students. This movement will put pressure on the school management, who will eventually have to find a solution within the school, even if the law says corporal punishment is legal.
It is important to raise awareness by creating websites and working towards making it clear to the public why hitting children is harmful. Share not only why it is bad but also what alternatives there are to corporal punishment. Teachers should make it a conversation. Communication can achieve many things; it is important to talk about it, whether it is for those who disagree or those who agree.
Is it a lonely struggle?
Once you set out to ban corporal punishment, you may find yourself alone, but that shouldn’t make you give up. Remember why you set out: Whether you reach 10 people or 100, the goal remains the same, and that is what you should focus on. Don’t focus on how uncomfortable you will make dinner parties, each of these things will lead to a bigger goal: a safer world for children. Let us know in the comments what you think about the use of violence in schools…