Corporal Punishment in Schools
I am a very experience secondary school teacher and leader. In the last 20 years I have worked in four schools, in various roles from classroom teacher to assistant Headteacher, all of which carried huge responsibilities for ‘child protection and safety in learning’.
I woke up this Saturday morning, tired and jaded from a three days camping experience with 120 students aged 11-12 years (all Form One). The experience was successful in more ways than one and the primary objective was achieved because all the students would have left the camp, in the country-side, with an enriched set of new knowledge, skills and appreciation for learning. More importantly, these youngsters would have formed new and is instances improved their relationship with peers and staffs. However, did all camping arrangements, rules and curfews accepted and adhered to? Absolutely not. Did any of the students deemed defaulters beaten? Absolutely not. Was at any time the use of physical punishment considered by the staff? Absolutely not, because physical punishment or physical abuse can never can never be considered as appropriate by UK teachers. One wonders what the outcome would have been for those youngsters (defaulters) in Guyana.
It is widely recognised and scientifically proven that there is no place for corporal punishment in schools or in any environment where learning is intended. This is my second attempt at addressing this notion of corporal punishment as a form of corrective therapy in schools. Let it be known, that corporal punishment is a form of child abuse that is punishable by law and my attempts at sharing ‘good practise’ is falling on deaf ears.
So when I read the newspaper to learn that “Corporal punishment has its place in schools, teachers say at MOE consultation” May 26, 2012 | By KNews. I was devastated. On second thought I wonder if our educators were be going bunkers and I would challenge any brave person involved in the education system in Guyana to enter into a debate on this issue. I am curious to find out if anyone in the MOE takes account of the education available through some letters to the editors of the daily newspapers. We have to, because if they do, it would be prudent to recall and revisit my article of February 1, 2012 “Corporal Punishment and the rights of the child”, KNews.
I would like my colleagues in the education system that is in a position to implement and effect change to seriously challenge the current status quo on this behavioural remedy in schools and collaboratively work towards the abolishment of corporal punishment in our schools. The best start point would be (a) the teaching curriculum at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) followed by (b) a series of In Service Education and Training (INSET) for those who are well rooted in dishing out punishment and (c) getting the message out to our parents who don’t know better.
We are in a sad state of affairs when teachers have to revert to physical abuse to change behaviour to enhance learning. It is even more sorrowful to learn that parents in Crabwood Creek has endorsed this form of abuse by teachers in the 21st Century and woeful that the MOE still has a ‘current policy’ on beating students. It is time for change because the alternatives are numerous, available and have proven to be successful. I would like to urge my colleagues to go out, find the alternatives, and try them (How about a pilot or a case study?) before endorsing abuse.
It is my belief and those of many others that physical punishment is a practice that sends the wrong message to children. It usually demonstrates the inability of adults to educate, and when necessary discipline, children by other means such as dialogue and discussion. It also shows adult ignorance of the capacity of children to understand and distinguish right from wrong, with proper guidance. The use of violence is a practice that can hamper the child’s development of his or her communication ability; it can encourage aggressive behaviour and can destroy the child’s self-confidence and internal value system. Physical punishment generates a destructive relationship based on force, between the adult and the young person; a relationship that can (a) hinder trust within the family and (b) lead to gender bas violence at a societal level