Violent discipline, physical punishment and bullying disrupt the education of 150 million 13-15-year-olds worldwide, Nepal is no exception.
KATHMANDU, Sept 6: Over 80 percent[i]of Nepali children, aged between one and 14, experience violent discipline. A significant number of toddlers, more than half, aged between one and two, are disciplined with the use of physical force. Most striking, the vast majority of children experience violence at the hands of those entrusted to take care of them. This data reinforces the global call to action by UNICEF to address various forms of violence that children across the world are facing.
Almost every child in Nepal experiences some form of violent discipline by their parents, teachers or caregivers. Violent discipline affects children from rich and poor households alike. The statistics are alarming. Psychological aggression accounts for over 70 percent of children, over 50 percent of children are subjected to general physical punishment and among them, 14 percent face the more severe forms of physical punishment. The consequences of these forms of discipline are wide-ranging and long-term in nature, including learning disabilities; behavioral disorders; and depression. In some instances, the physical harm inflicted on children have led tragically to death.
The negative impact of childhood violence perpetuates intergenerational cycle of violence. Boys who have suffered from violence or see their mothers suffering from violence are more likely to perpetrate violence against their spouse in adulthood. Girls who suffer violence or see their mothers suffering violence are more likely to become victims of domestic violence and children who suffer violence are more likely to - when they become parents – inflict violence upon their children.
“Protecting children form the foundations for building peaceful societies. However, four out of five children, experience violent discipline, often out of sight, and this is tolerated due to social and cultural norms,” said UNICEF Nepal Deputy Representative Rownak Khan. “The laws and policies in Nepal clearly prohibit the corporal punishment of children and a Code of Conduct for Teachers specifically prohibits the use of physical or mental violence on the students. We can address this national issue and, together with all those entrusted to care for children, find ways to positively discipline and guide the future generation of this country.”
Every day children are experiencing different levels of violence across all stages of childhood and in all settings – at home, at school, in their communities and online. According to a new global report released by UNICEF today, half of the students aged 13 to 15 worldwide – around 150 million – report having experienced peer-to-peer violence in and around the school. The report, An Everyday Lesson:#ENDviolence in Schools says that peer violence – measured as the number of children who report having been bullied in the last month or having been involved in a physical fight in the last year – is a pervasive part of young people’s education around the world. It impacts student learning and well-being in rich and poor countries alike. In Nepal, according to the Global School-based Student Health Survey Nepal 2015[ii], more than 50 percent of students aged 13 to 15 years reported being bullied on one or more days during the 30 days before the survey. Close to 40 percent of student aged 13 to 15 years reported having been involved in a physical fight at least once during the 12 months before the survey.
To counteract the situation, the Government of Nepal has been carrying out important initiatives on both operational and legal fronts. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) has established a school-based reporting mechanism “Suggestion box” to promote reporting cases of various forms of violence experienced by the students, including corporal punishment by teachers and bullying by peers. As per the Complaint Response Mechanism (CRM) Guidelines 2073 (according to the Nepali Calendar), by the Centre for Education and Human Resource Development, all the secondary schools countrywide should appoint one female teacher as gender focal person and compulsorily establish a suggestion box in schools.
Article 39 on child rights in the Constitution of Nepal 2015 has strict provisions banning all forms of abuse and violence against children, from family to community levels. It states that “no child shall be subjected to physical, mental or any other form of torture at home, school or other place and situation whatsoever”. The sixth amendment to the Education Rules 2002 (according to the Roman Calendar) in 2011 added a code of conduct for the teachers specifying that the teachers should not commit physical or mental torture on students. Most recently, in August 2018, the Bill to Amend and Codify Laws Relating to Children, which will supersede Children’s Act of 1992, was registered in the parliament specifying that "physical or mental punishment or undignified behavior at home, school or any other place in the name of protection, education or discipline shall be regarded as ‘violence against children.’
Building on these positive initiatives already adopted in the country, in the coming months, UNICEF Nepal will be encouraging children and young people around the country to raise their voices and provide ideas on how teachers and parents can positively discipline children in schools and beyond. Additionally, as part of a wider global movement, UNICEF is also asking young people to raise their voices to #ENDviolence in and around schools and communities and to tell us how they are working together and what solutions they are using to #ENDviolence in and around schools once and for all.