- BONELA urges the Government of Botswana to repeal and replace with prohibition, corporal punishment of children in national legislation such as the Penal Code, Education Policies or any other laws, which promote corporal punishment. Rather opting for legislation that puts in place alternative forms of disciple.
- The Government of Botswana has included various provisions of regional and international charters regarding children’s rights in national legislation, however, has rejected recommendations by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Botswana in 2008 and 2013, to prohibit all corporal punishment of children stating that it would rather undertake awareness raising campaigns before considering prohibition in all settings. Currently, corporal punishment of children is lawful in Botswana, according to Article 27 and Article 61 of the Children’s Act of 2009.
- Corporal punishment is likewise lawful and prescribed in schools under Article 29 of the Education Act 1967, Article 2 of the Education (Corporal Punishment) Regulations 1968, Article 21 to 25 of the Education (Government and Aided Secondary Schools) Regulations 1978, and Article 26 to 29 of the Education (Primary Schools) Regulations 1980.
These regulations include prescriptions regarding administration of corporal punishment according to the gender of the child. Corporal punishment is additionally lawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions for males under the Prisons Act 1980 (arts. 109, 114 and 115), the Prisons Regulations 1965 (art. 18), the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1974 (art. 60), Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act 1939 (art. 305 and 304(1)), the Criminal Procedure (Corporal Punishment) Regulations 1969 (art. 2), and the Customary Courts Act 1961 (art. 18). The Penal Code 1964 (arts. 25, 28, 29, 142, 143, 146, 147, 148, 149, 155, 218, 225, 229, 247, 292, 293, 300, 301, 302, 303 and 316) likewise punishes a number of crimes with corporal punishment.
- Corporal punishment is a cruel and degrading form of violence and a profound violation of human rights. According to the 2018 Violence Against Children Survey, physical violence is the most common form of violence against children; and parents, caregivers, and adults in the community are among the leading perpetrators. BONELA is concerned and fears that corporal punishment of children will condone an environment of violence.
- Although intended as punishment to discourage misbehavior and in school settings to promote learning; there is no evidence that it enhances learning and it may actually counterintuitively worsen the behavior of children. Studies show that corporal punishment may interfere with learning and contribute to lower academic performance in school
settings due to poor concentration and increased truancy rates following resultant adverse emotive effects such as feelings of fear and humiliation (Baker-Henningham et al., 2009; Gershoff, 2017; Talwar, Carlson, & Lee, 2011). Physical injuries have also been indicated as risk outcomes of corporal punishment such as bumps, contusions, wounds, bruises, hematomas, nerve and muscle damage, cuts, fractures, and broken bones (Gershoff, 2017).
- Various regional and global studies have found corporal punishment to be predictive of disobedience, stubbornness, aggression, depression and mental health issues, delinquent behavior and criminality, decreased empathic behaviour, and increased susceptibility to other forms of physical abuse (Botswana Guardian, 2021; Gershoff, 2017; Lansford et
al, 2011;). Corporal punishment as a way of discipline unintentionally spreads the message that violence is an acceptable and appropriate way to resolve misbehavior and/or conflicts which can entrench a structural violence (Convention Against Torture Initiative, nd). This suggests that the cycle of violence could be significantly deterred by addressing corporal punishment.
- BONELA recommends following a positive discipline methodology that takes into account the specific long-term educational goals that are trying to be achieved with the child; building of a structure of understanding,
trust, safety, respect, warmth and love; understanding how children think and feel; teaching problem solving that identifies and rectifies the root cause of behaviors (Convention Against Torture Initiative, nd). This includes making use of alternative forms of discipline such as writing of lines or essays, detention, or addition of tasks, homework, chores or projects i.e., mathematics assignments, agricultural or home economics duties in school settings; and grounding, removal of TV privileges and/or addition of chores in home settings.
- Moreover, ending corporal punishment of children will require educating the public about the harms of corporal punishment; instituting appropriate sanctions for continued use of corporal punishment and monitoring compliance with bans; creating procedures for students, parents, or staff to report use of corporal punishment; and instructing teachers in alternative methods of discipline (Gershoff, 2017).
- BONELA calls for advocacy and public education campaigns by governmental and non-governmental agencies to raise awareness about the harms of corporal punishment among teachers, parents, and children and workshops to train on non-violent disciplinary methods.
|Raise public awareness about the negative impact of corporal punishment||Public engagement though radio, print and social media Public/kgotla engagements||Ongoing|
|Conduct stakeholder meeting to solicit buy-in||Stakeholder meeting||July|
|Build a movement against corporal punishment||Create platforms of engagement- WhatsApp, Facebook etc. Convene regular meetings Build capacity of members by providing relevant information||Ongoing starting June|
|Engage members of Parliament to address policy and legal gaps on Corporal Punishment||Meeting with Parliamentarians||July/August|
|Engage traditional leadership on alternatives to corporal punishment (members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi) on corporal punishment||Meeting with members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi||July/August|
Baker-Henningham, H., Meeks-Gardner, J., Chang, S., & Walker, S. (2009). Experiences of violence and deficits in academic achievement among urban primary school children in Jamaica. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33, 296–306.
Botswana Guardian (2021). Intersections of GBV and Corporal Punishment in Botswana.
Published 25 March 2021. https://www.pressreader.com/botswana/botswanaguardian/20210325/281818581609697
Convention Against Torture Initiative (nd). UNCAT Children and Positive Discipline Tool:
10UNCAT/2021 – Positive Discipline and Alternatives to Corporal Punishment of Children.
Elisabeth T. Gershoff (2017) School corporal punishment in global perspective: prevalence, outcomes and efforts at intervention. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 22:sup1,224-239, DOI 10.1080/13548506.2016.1271955
Lansford JE, Tapanya S, & Oburu PO. (2011) Corporal Punishment. In: Tremblay RE, Boivin M, Peters RDeV, eds. Tremblay RE, topic ed. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. https://www.child-ncyclopedia.com/social-violence/accordingexperts/ corporal-punishment. Published October 2011. Accessed June 15, 2021.
Talwar, V., Carlson, S. M., & Lee, K. (2011). Effects of a punitive environment on children’s executive functioning: A natural experiment. Social Development, 20, 805–doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2011.00617.x [Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]
For more information, contact BONELA on:
Tebogo Gareitsanye at email@example.com or +267 73297509
Cindy Kelemi at firstname.lastname@example.org or +267 73007782