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Corporal punishment is the worst, even in the world. No one likes it. It must be banned so that children will not worry.76

- Alex J., seventeen

In your report, if you are talking to the ministry, I would like you to write about the punishments-the caning must be reduced, because it is too harsh for the children.77

- Anita W., fourteen

School corporal punishment is perhaps the best example of the acceptance and promotion of violence against children as serving a supposed educative and social purpose-that hitting a child will teach a child, and contribute to his or her learning and development. Corporal punishment has far-reaching consequences for both children and adults. Research has identified this as a significant factor in the development of violent attitudes and actions, in childhood and later life. And for adults, it sends the message that violence is an effective and legitimate means of controlling and correcting children's behavior. Just as challenging routine domestic violence against women has been a vital part of the advancement of women's rights, challenging physical assaults on children disguised as corrective discipline is vital to improving children's status.

The purpose of children's education, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, should be the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and preparation for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, and tolerance.78 In Kenya, however, school children are taught lessons about violence, as the witnesses and victims of corporal punishment that is arbitrary, routine, and often brutal. In the process of learning these lessons, many children are left with physical and psychological scars. The psychological scars are less visible, but they are the fruit of an educational system that maintains discipline by humiliating and hurting small children. And for some children, physical scars and disabilities remain a life-long reminder of the system's brutality.

Many nations throughout the world have recognized that school corporal punishment violates the provisions of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, and constitutes a cruel, inhuman, or degrading practice. Recognizing this, many nations have ended the practice of school corporal punishment, and aggressively sought to train teachers in alternative means of maintaining discipline and motivating children.

Kenya's children are its future, and there is no excuse for permitting another generation of children to be subjected to violence in the name of education. The Kenyan government and the Kenyan educational community should take immediate and strong action to eliminate corporal punishment and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in schools.

76 Human Rights Watch interview with Alex J. 77 Human Rights Watch interview with Anita W. 78 CRC, art. 29(1).

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