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Children’s opinion poll reveals widespread use of corporal punishment in school, home and workplace in Bangladesh

Dhaka, 8 October 2009. According to a recent opinion poll, 91 per cent of children reported receiving physical punishment in school while 74 per cent also reported receiving physical punishment at home, showing a widespread use of corporal punishment in Bangladesh.

These findings were shared today by the State Minister, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh, Mr Carel de Rooy at the launching of the Children’s Opinion Poll 2008 ‘Opinions of Children of Bangladesh on Corporal Punishment’, at the Press Club in Dhaka. The survey was conducted under a joint project of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) and UNICEF. It is a follow-up to the Children’s Opinion Poll 2005.

The survey results showed that the use of stick or cane in punishing children in school was still very high (87.6%). Physical punishment in schools ranged from hitting the palm with ruler/stick (76%), forcing children to stand in class (63%), hitting other body parts with ruler/stick (60%), slapping (49%), ear, hair or skin twisting (36%) and forcing children to kneel (25%). As far as pervasiveness, 53 per cent of students reported that ‘many to most’ schoolchildren suffer physical punishment, with 23 per cent stating that such punishment in school took place daily. About 7 per cent reported cuts or injuries to students due to physical punishment, with relatively high incidence in urban and slum areas and among boys 14 to 17 years old.

At home, more than one third of children reported that the frequency and severity of punishment were ‘moderate to high’. The most common forms of punishment were scolding/rebuking/censuring/threatening (99.3%), slapping (69.9%) and beating/throwing things/kicking (39.7%).

Children are also exposed to corporal punishment in the workplace. A large majority (65%) of working children reported being punished. Physical punishment was reported by 25 percent. Parents are less likely to use corporal punishment when they have a higher level of education.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child states unequivocally that all forms of physical or mental violence against children in the family, school and workplace must be prohibited. This edict is reinforced by the United Nations Study on Violence against Children, which set a target date of 2009 for universal prohibition of corporal punishment.

‘UNICEF Bangladesh is committed to child participation’, said UNICEF Representative Carel de Rooy. ‘As part of this commitment, we wanted to know their experience and their views on corporal punishment. The findings show that corporal punishment is widely used and accepted. Yet hitting or smacking children is a type of violence against children that goes against children’s rights. Violence used as a means of discipline can have devastating effects on the child and can never be justified.”

The majority of children interviewed in the poll believed that corporal punishment was acceptable in school and home, yet indicated that other forms of discipline were more effective. Working children, however, were less likely to endorse corporal punishment in the workplace. This was deemed ‘generally unacceptable’ or ‘not at all acceptable’ by 59 per cent of children who work.

In the focus groups, children also said that physical punishment should be used only if softer methods of discipline, such as counseling or warning, fail to correct the child’s behavior.
Children stated that counseling with love was more effective and voiced their concern about the emotional and physical harm of punishment. On the whole, they thought that corporal punishment does more harm than good.
A total of 3,840 households were sampled for this survey, evenly divided among slums, urban, rural, char (river islands) and adivasi (ethnic) areas. The head of each household and one child per household aged 9 to 18 were interviewed. In addition, twenty focus group discussions were conducted while ten case studies and a special survey with children living on the street were also undertaken.

The poll also included children’s views on the issues of disability, disaster and gender.

For more information, please contact:
• Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF Chief, Communication and Information Section, Tel: 9336701-10, Ext: 209, Email:
• Arifa S. Sharmin, UNICEF Communication Specialist, Tel: 9336701-10 Ext:442, Email:

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.





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