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85% of Nigerian children suffer violent discipline in schools, says UNICEF

By Kanayo Umeh, Abuja
03 August 2022   |   6:31 am
UNITED Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said 85 per cent of Nigerian children between the ages of one and 14 experience violent discipline in schools, with nearly one in three undergoing severe physical punishment.

UNICEF office

UNITED Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said 85 per cent of Nigerian children between the ages of one and 14 experience violent discipline in schools, with nearly one in three undergoing severe physical punishment.

UNICEF Chief of Education, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, disclosed this in Abuja, yesterday, during a two-day ‘National Awareness Creation Meeting on Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools,’ organised by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), in collaboration with UNICEF.

Panday-Soobrayan described the discussion on ending corporal punishment in schools as “difficult and heartbreaking,” noting, however, that the presence of participants at the event was a testament to Nigeria’s determination to uphold every child’s right to safety, well-being and quality, inclusive education.

“Yesterday, we confronted the harrowing reality. This is a staggering statistic: one that demands urgent action and is indicative of a crisis! Much of this violent discipline takes place in the form of corporal punishment in the very institutions that are entrusted to keep children safe, develop respect for human rights and prepare them for life in a society that promotes understanding, peace and conflict resolution through dialogue,” she said.

According to her, the persistence of these practices contradicts Nigeria’s National Policy on Safety, Security and Violence-Free Schools, which commits to zero-tolerance on threat to life and property in schools.

Stressing that the impact of corporal punishment on children is devastating, Panday-Soobrayan said children are left with physical and psychological wounds.

She said: “Physical punishment causes not only pain, sadness, fear, shame and anger, but is also linked to children’s hyperactivity to stress, changes in brain structure and function, and overloaded nervous, cardiovascular, and nutritional systems. Spanking, just like more severe abuse, is linked to atypical brain function.

“The damage is not only acute, affecting their learning in the current moment, but also chronic. A large body of research links physical punishment with long-term disability or death; mental ill-health; impaired cognitive and socio-emotional development; school dropout and poorer academic and occupational outcomes; increased antisocial behaviour, aggression, and criminal behaviour in adulthood; and damaged relationships through its intergenerational transmission.”