The discipline of children has been a growing concern for the parents and educators as well as authorities. Parents are constantly striving to shape the discipline and gender roles of their children through different initiatives. Additionally, educators and policy formulators are striving to ensure that, these gender roles are reinforced as well as learned in the schools. Different studies have indicated that, most parents in the United States and in different countries of the world do not spend much time with their children. These children are either left at home with their care takers or sent to day care facilities.
In these situations, behavior and gender roles form the basis of formation. Parents and caretakers as well as the day care facilities have the responsibility of defining the gender roles as well as the discipline of their children. In this paper, discipline refers to the training of the child’s character and mind how to develop, exercise, and control their character in order to produce orderly behavior, which is desired by the society. While relying on this definition, this paper will analyze a TV documentary on the use of corporal punishment on Ugandan children in a move to enforce discipline.
The TV Documentary: School Discipline
The TV documentary that will be analyzed in this paper is was produced by the Qatar foundation in 2010, and aired in Euro News under the learning world segment. The survey was conducted by World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). In this documentary, the survey was conducted in Uganda, a sub Saharan African country, where corporal discipline has been considered unlawful. Additionally, the documentary explains the issue of school discipline in the United States’ schools. The documentary indicates that several countries (about 31) have outlawed corporal punishment as a means of enforcing discipline on the learners. Uganda passed the law against corporal punishment in 2006. However, the survey indicates that, most educators, fellow pupils, and parents still disregard the law to use violence against the pupils.
According to this survey, teachers are the leading child abusers at 73 percent, fellow pupils at 15 percent and parents at 12 percent. According to experts the use of corporal punishment on children indicates the lack of love and care for them. The documentary interviewed members of the African network for Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect and found out that, violence against children remains at about 81 percent in Uganda. This organization also indicates that, violence against children causes emotional and physical harm, which consequently reduce their self-esteem and performance in academics and social sphere.
The Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment in Children also reveals that, children have been neglected in the formulation of policies: while several states have adopted legislations against assault and beating women, many countries including the United Kingdom, have not passed the laws, which protect children against corporal punishment. Another survey in the schools in the United States also indicates that there is character decay in the American schools as children carry weapons to schools. This study however reveals that the family situations translate into the behavior of the children in schools. Children who undergo stressing situations back at home are most likely to produce uncontrolled behavior in schools.
The parents and educators as well as students have the responsibility defining the gender roles and discipline. In the documentary, Alex, a student, was expelled from school at the age of 17 years for lateness. He used to report late at school because he was having a job to help his mother pay the house rent. His experience in the family level with his mother instills the responsibility of care for family (mother). However, the school authorities did not approve of his discipline to warrant remaining in school. This indicates that the family and school’s methods of defining discipline might differ in some situations.
The documentary also speaks much about school discipline. While recognizing that it is important to develop and control the discipline of the learners, the researchers as well as institutions advocating for children’s protection against violence indicate that, there is need for alternative means of maintaining discipline in children. In “Off with their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood,” there are several phrases such as “if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds,” “a red hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long,” and “if you drink from a bottle marked ‘poison,’ it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later” (1992, p. 22). These phrases seem unpleasant because they are correctional measures that are used to warn children about the consequences of bad behavior. Though they sound fierce to the children, they provide an alternative solution to the method used in the documentary – the parents and educators as well as the authorities could seek alternative methods of instilling discipline in schools, instead of corporal punishment.
Parenting styles are also important in shaping the gender roles. According to the Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment, which is endorsed by UNICEF and UNESCO, the family has an equal responsibility of ending corporal punishments as schools. Parents need to ensure that they use alternative disciplinary measures on their children, instead of the corporal punishments. Policy framers should work further to protect children against protection from all sorts of punishments in all aspects of their lives. According to the researches included in this documentary, it is necessary for the stakeholders to rise to the challenge and ensure that, while the discipline of the children is a critical issue that needs consideration, it is equally important to ensure that the measures used to instill discipline are relevant and accommodative of their rights.
Leavitt R. L., (1994), Power and Emotion in Infant-Toddler Day Care,” Albany, New York: SUNY Press
Tatar M., (1992), Off with their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press
Euronews, (2010), Discipline in school - the pain of learning, available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwkhGsdi9Gk