VIOLENCE: Ending Corporal Punishment of Children in Mozambique


[MAPUTO, 14 October 2010] - Save the Children is calling on parents and teachers to adopt positive and non-violent means of disciplining children as a way of promoting peaceful and non-violent societies. The report, entitled "Ending Corporal Punishment of Children in Mozambique," advocates a ban on corporal and other forms of humiliating punishment of children in all settings and to promote other non-violent and positive means of discipline.

"According to the report, interpersonal violence is widespread in Mozambique and conflicts are, in many instances, resolved by violent means," said John Grabowski, Save the Children's country director in Mozambique. "The use of corporal punishment on children contributes to a perception, from an early age, that violence is an appropriate response to problems, conflict and unwanted behaviour. It teaches that it is acceptable for powerful people to be violent toward the weak and to solve conflicts through violence."

In the report, 2,600 Mozambican children raised their concerns on violent means of discipline, especially in the home and at school. They seek a life free from violent, humiliating and degrading forms of discipline and are asking parents and teachers to first take time to talk to them and to use non-violent forms of discipline instead of beating them.

"I arrived late at school, and then the teacher grabbed a stick and hit me. I was embarrassed. Then I felt angry that he hit me in front of the class," says a 14-year-old boy from Maputo.

In addition to infringing on children's basic human rights, there are negative physical, educational and psychological effects of corporal and other forms of humiliating punishment of children, according to a large body of medical research. Corporal punishment may result in a range of injuries including fractures, loss of consciousness, burns, permanent disability and sometimes even death. Sadly in many countries, including Mozambique, children are given the least protection of all against physical violence.

In ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) as well as other international human rights conventions, Mozambique is obliged not only to prohibit by law all forms of corporal punishment of children in the home, school, care institutions and the juvenile justice system, but also to develop awareness and education campaigns to promote positive, non-violent discipline of children. Lack of knowledge on the available and possible means positive discipline as well as the harmful effects of corporal punishment on children are among the major contributors to corporal punishment. Legislation alone will not end the use of corporal punishment. It needs to be coupled with a deliberate programme on awareness-raising and public education to change attitudes and to promote positive.

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