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Middle East Schools Struggle to Stamp out Physical Punishment

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Beatings and violent physical punishments persist in many Middle East schools despite international laws banning abuse of children and widespread concern about the effects of corporal punishment. Physical abuse is a grim reality in schools in the region, according to recent studies by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and UNICEF, which highlight Lebanon as a country of key concern. The use of corporal punishment is one of the leading factors behind Lebanon’s rising school dropout rate, the HRW report said. Bill Van Esveld, senior researcher for children’s rights at HRW, told Arab News that reports suggest that up to 76 percent of schoolchildren in Lebanon have been physically abused by teachers. Beatings involved being whipped with an electric cable, or struck with rulers or classroom objects, and often resulted in broken bones. In the UAE, physical punishment in state schools was banned in 1998, while in Saudi Arabia the Ministry of Education has told schools to ban hitting and beating students. In 2017, Saudi Arabia also announced it was launching a campaign called No Hit Zone, which aimed to show parents alternative methods of disciplining a child. However, in many schools, the old adage “spare the rod, spoil the child” continues to play a part in the classroom.
Van Esveld said there is a lack of data about the prevalence of corporal punishment in other Middle East and North African (MENA) countries, but HRW is beginning research into the problem. UNICEF has also highlighted widespread corporal punishment, both in the classroom and in the home, in its latest report, “Violent Discipline in the MENA Region.” Of 85 million children (aged between two and 14) in the region, 71 million are estimated to have experienced some form of violent discipline.
(Extracted from arabnews.com)