Balanced Discipline versus Violent Discipline in schools


“Foolishness is tied up in the heart of a boy* (*Or “child; youth”) but the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” -Proverbs 22:15.

“Do not hold back discipline from a boy* (*Or “child; youth”). If you strike him with the rod, he will not die. With the rod you should strike him in order to save him from the grave.”  -Proverbs 23:13, 14.

A recent news report shows that 85 per cent of Nigerian children between the ages of 1 and 14 experience violent discipline in schools, with nearly 1 in 3 children experiencing severe physical punishment. UNICEF Chief of Education, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, disclosed this at a two-day National Awareness Creation Meeting on “Ending Corporal Punishment In Schools,” organised by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN, in collaboration with UNICEF.

In that light, I would like to express my views on administering discipline in schools using balanced disciplinary measures as against unbalanced and severe or excessive disciplinary measures. I believe that when discipline is administered in a loving and balanced way, even when a cane or flogging is used, it can be beneficial and bring good results on a child. However, I am not advocating or supporting the excessive or violent use of a cane/flogging in administering discipline.

Discipline in schools is very important, yet it constitutes one of the greatest challenges facing teachers nowadays. A lack of proper parental and school discipline can result in disruptive behaviours in the classroom. Nowadays however, the views of many child psychologists on discipline conflict with what is recommended in God’s Word, the Bible, as recorded in the verses of Proverbs quoted above. Their theories collide head on with the counsel we find in the Holy Scriptures.

What have been the results of sowing the seeds of permissiveness? In one publication of Jehovah’s Witnesses (“Making Your Family Life Happy”), in Chapter 10, titled “The Value of Disciplining in Love,” paragraph 3 (accessible on, we find this report: “The bumper crop of crime and delinquency is well known. Youth crime accounts for over 50 percent of serious crimes in many industrialized nations. In some parts of the world, school campuses are hotbeds of class disruptions, fights, verbal abuse and obscenities, vandalism, assault, extortion, arson, robberies, rapes, drugs and murders.” A spanking may therefore be a lifesaver to a child, as God’s Word recommends in the Book of Proverbs. If parents and teachers hold the children’s life interests dear to them, they will not weakly or carelessly let disciplinary action slip from their hands. Love will motivate them to take action, wisely and fairly, when it is needed.

As regards discipline itself, it is not limited to punishing. Discipline basically means ‘instruction and training that holds to a certain order or framework.’ Discipline, rightly given, is evidence to a child that he is loved.

Three types of discipline are: –

PREVENTATIVE DISCIPLINE: Establishing expectations, guidelines and rules for behaviour.

SUPPORTIVE DISCIPLINE: Measures taken when rules are broken, usually a verbal warning or a suggestion for the correction of behaviour.

CORRECTIVE DISCIPLINE: Measures taken when supportive discipline has failed to change the child’s behaviour after repeated attempts. It mostly refers to the consequences delivered following an infraction.

Children need consequences to mold and learn the correct ways to function. Without consequences, they will only continue poor behaviour choices, and many will escalate those behaviours over time. Children are always trying to figure out their world, and they do that by testing limits, pushing boundaries until they reach resistance. That is very likely why Proverbs 22:15 says: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child . . . .” Therefore, if that resistance, discipline, never comes, then they never learn what is right and wrong.

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However, one blog about “Classroom Discipline” on, contains this advice: “Before proceeding with punishment, teachers should think carefully and understand its pros and cons. While punishing students can quickly stop a problem, it tends to be a short-term solution that can often be accompanied by negative side effects, such as a drop in positive attitudes towards school and a more negative perception of teachers. Punishment is defined as inflicting a penalty as a retribution for a transgression. According to that definition, since school children often commit transgressions, it would make sense to punish them for their bad behaviour. However, teachers must refrain from applying such a “black and white” approach to dealing with unruly behaviour and use critical thinking instead to determine whether punishment is necessary. Teachers should always consider alternative options for dealing with bad behaviour, before proceeding with punishment.”

Acceptable forms of punishment include but are not limited to: demerit systems, apologies, time-out, detentions, picking up litter around the school, among others.

However, in case of severe problems with classroom management and children that are unresponsive to corrections, teachers should reach out to colleagues for support and involve the school’s administration and the child’s family when necessary.

There is never an easy answer, or even one correct answer, when it comes to raising children. Discipline is no different, and there are many theories on how it should be administered in school settings.

In conclusion, here are eight steps for parents and educators on raising children to be balanced adults: –









I hope that over time, educators, administrators, parents and policy makers can work together to create better discipline policies in education. We all play an important role, and we all deserve to be heard!

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*IGHAKPE (08174795742; is of ‘Tendertouch Intellectuals Primary School,’ FESTAC Town, Lagos.

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