Saying ‘NO’ to corporal punishment | Sunday Observer

Saying ‘NO’ to corporal punishment

To cane or not to cane – that’s a big question on the tables for a few years in the country. Corporal punishment in schools is still a problem in Sri Lanka say parents, activists and educationists confirming the Red Alert issued by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in February. Together, they have come forward now to stand against this hazard which impedes the holistic development of future generations. End Corporal Punishment – Vision 2020 (ECP2020) launched early this month strives to eliminate the menace from the Sri Lankan school system by 2020.

End corporal punishment – vision 2020, a campaign towards ‘Real Change’ started on the first of this month includes an online petition against and a proposal to end corporal punishment. The online petition will be open to the public for signature from tomorrow, September 10 at ECP2020 website www.stopchildcruelty.com The proposal inviting five key stakeholders responsible for child protection to work collectively called the Pentagon Proposalwill be handed over to the President on September 30.

ECP2020, is a collaboration between Stop Child Cruelty-Sri Lanka (SCC-SL); Daruwan Surakimu program conducted by the Presidential Secretariat; Sri Lanka Foundation Institute; and an Alliance of Professionals.

The campaign is lead by SCC-SL a civil society organisation working towards facilitating a healthy school environment for children to be happy, free of fear and physical and mental harm. It is also strengthened by the support of professionals including educationists, paediatrics, psychologists, sociologists and more. A few of the leading names standing behind the campaign are Prof. Savithri Gunasekera, Prof. Harendra de Silva, Dr. Tara de Mel, Dr. Hiranthi Wijemanne and Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne. Campaign patrons are leading business woman and social worker Otara Gunawardene and former Sri Lankan cricketer Sidath Wettimuny.

Taking up the cause against corporal punishment is of grave urgency comments Dr. Tush Wickramanayaka, Chairperson of SCC-SL. She founded the organisation as a result of her struggle for justice for her daughter who experienced corporal punishment at a branch of a leading international school. “We hope these small steps will eventually transform into giant steps required to ban all forms of cruelty, including violence, aggression and brutal ragging in Universities. Hopefully, lessons learned from this campaign will spur others with similar intentions and the Government to take up this cause,” she commented.

Sri Lanka has many mechanisms to stop corporal punishment. While there the law makes it a punishable offence, the Education Ministry had issued circulars prohibiting corporal punishment in schools. It was nearly three decades ago, in 1991 that Sri Lanka ratified the UNCRC, which shelters children against all forms of harm. However, in Sri Lanka the problem still goes on unabated. Last year the National Child Protection Authority recorded 2144 cases of physical and psychological cruelty towards children. In February this year (2018) the UNCRC reviewing the 5th and 6th periodic reports from Sri Lanka stated that it is “deeply concerned that high numbers of children are subject to abuse and violence including corporal punishment” and issued a red alert urging the country to take action against it.

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