Caning Can Worsen Cognitive Performance, Affect Mental Health

A psychologist says corporal punishment is antiquated.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Physical punishment of children can lead to lower cognitive performance, mental health problems, and increase antisocial behaviour, a social psychologist said.

Intan Hashimah Mohd Hashim from Universiti Sains Malaysia told Free Malaysia Today that corporal punishment was an antiquated method, after a Johor Baru secondary school teacher caned a schoolgirl for calling him “ah kua” (effeminate), causing red welts on her arm and thigh. 

The psychologist reportedly said rewarding good behaviour was the best way of instilling discipline, even if the method took time and effort to yield results.

“With positive disciplining, children are taught about limits and respect,” Intan Hashimah was quoted saying. 

“They learn to control their behaviour and respect the rights of others.”

After a video of the schoolgirl’s mother confronting the male teacher went viral, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching reportedly said schools could only cane male pupils for major offences.

Major offences, according to a circular from the Education Ministry, include drug use, alcohol consumption, smoking, and being rude to teachers. These can be punished with a maximum of three strokes on the buttocks.

Medium school offences like dying one’s hair, having skinhead or punk hairstyles, or leaving the school compound without permission can be punished with three strokes on the palm.

Bernama reported Johor police as saying yesterday that the girl’s mother withdrew a complaint about the caning.

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