Unicef urges M'sia to ban corporal punishment in schools


KUALA LUMPUR: The UN children's agency on Thursday urged Malaysia to ban corporal punishment in schools, following the death of an 11-year-old boy who was allegedly abused at a religious school.

Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohamad Gaddafi was allegedly whipped with a water hose at a private Islamic boarding school last month, and his legs had to be amputated last week due to a bacterial infection. He died Wednesday.

Although investigations are ongoing to determine whether his death was the direct result of the beating, police have detained the assistant warden accused of whipping Thaqif and several other students as punishment.

The case has sparked outrage in Malaysia, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak ordering police to speed up their investigation.

Marianne Clark-Hattingh, the Unicef representative in Malaysia, called for an end to corporal punishment, which she said statistics showed is the preferred form of discipline for children in Malaysia.

Hattingh said it's more effective to use non-violent approaches to discipline, that teach children right from wrong, and how to treat others without inflicting physical and emotional harm.

"We urge the government of Malaysia to ban all forms of corporal punishment against children," she said.

Malaysian officials have promised to scrutinise religious schools, some of which are exempt from many state inspections. -- AP