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In Nigeria, corporal punishment is widely acceptable to the extent that it is unthinkable that a child be allowed to grow without physical discipline, which is premised on the popular Bible verse “ spare the rod and spoil the child”. Though this may seem beneficial to help children inculcate good habits from the fear of being physically disciplined, it gives right to the infringement of the child’s right to dignity as a person, which may be traumatic physically and psychologically.

Corporal punishment was defined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which oversees the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort however light, it involves hitting (smacking, spanking, slapping) children with the hand or a supplement such as a stick, whip, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. It can also involve kicking, shaking, throwing children, scratching, pinching, burning, scalding or forced ingestion.

It has become a growing concern that corporal punishment is still practiced despite casualties, most especially in schools, which has in some cases led to the death of students, which seems to be the case in Araromi Ilogbo Secondary School Oko-Afo where a student identified as David Babadipo was allegedly beaten to death by a teacher whose name was given as Oluwale, reported Punch. It was reported that the 16-year-old, who had been ill for some days, was rushed to a hospital after the beating, where he was confirmed dead.

In 1991, Nigeria ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) with the exception of some northern states; many states have adopted the CRC as state laws. In article 28(2), the CRC provided that “state parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present convention.” Also, Section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, makes provision for the right to dignity of the human person, which is quite sacrosanct to all citizens of Nigeria.

Corporal punishment in schools and at home is a form of child abuse that needs to be eradicated totally by the Nigerian government from the educational system. Violation of the rights of children must be curtailed; a discipline system should be introduced that does not cause harm or abuse to the dignity of a child.



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