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School CP - November 2005
Sun St Kitts/Nevis, Basseterre, 22 November 2005
Punishment or abuse
By Corliss Smithen
When a student of the Dr. William Connor Primary School was beaten for laughing in morning assembly, it angered his mother.
"The head teacher gave us a joke in school and he beat three of us because we laughed. He beat me on my buttocks and it turned black and blue. He gave me three lashes which left welts on my buttocks. I don't want to go back to school because I'm afraid he would beat me again," the pupil, speaking on condition of anonymity told the SUN.
That sentiment was also expressed by his mother, who said she had a problem with the manner in which teachers appear to administer corporal punishment at the school.
"About two weeks ago, my seven-year-old came home and told me he got licks. I asked him for what and he said because he laughed in assembly. I think the head teacher could have talked to the child instead of beating him. The situation at the school is getting out of hand because I am not the only one complaining about this. He was just being a child.
"My child's bottom was marked. A child must get licks in school, but to me this was abuse. I am going to let the matter rest this time, but next time the police or my lawyer will get involved," she threatened.
When this newspaper contacted the school's principal, Anthony Wiltshire, on the matter, he said, "I'm a disciplinarian. I believe the school environment should be learner-friendly and loving. The only way we could eradicate criminality is administering discipline in the schools.
"We are not going to abuse anybody's child. The good book tells us that children have to be punished. We have to be on top of what is going on and make sure children are behaving."
Admitting to the beatings, Wiltshire said the use of the strap is limited in the school and that they use the strap as a last resort.
Wiltshire said he had to deal with the problem of vulgarity at the school. "Children in grade five were e-mailing pornography to each other. Friday morning a complaint was made on a little girl so I got one of my male teachers to administer six lashes to that student.
"The strap caught her leg; there was a welt. The parent was angry and she went to the police station. She came to the school on Monday, we had a meeting and the matter is now settled. In the heart of assembly, another child laughed out.
"I asked him why he was laughing and he laughed louder. I called him up on the stage and gave him three lashes. I was not giving any jokes at the time, we were talking about the World Wars," he explained.
Wiltshire accused the parents of being on a campaign to "tarnish the name of the school."
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