Corpun file 12486
The Press, Canterbury, New Zealand, 10 October 2003
Corporal punishment 'not missed' by most
By Geoff Collett
A Christchurch high school principal says corporal punishment
has not been missed by the vast majority of teachers since it was
outlawed in schools 13 years ago.
Neil Lancaster, principal of Mairehau High School and chairman of
the Canterbury West Coast Secondary Principals' Association, says
that from his experience when teachers could cane male pupils,
the punishment was often used "abusively" and sent bad
messages to students.
With schools losing the right to use corporal punishment in 1990,
parents and caregivers are the only people left with legal
protection to discipline children with physical force. However,
that right, enshrined in section 59 of the Crimes Act, is under review with the Government being pressured by child advocacy groups to repeal the protection.
Mr Lancaster said he had been glad when corporal punishment was
finally scrapped in schools. "It was condoning physical
force to solve behavioural problems ... "
As Lincoln High School deputy principal, he had been called on to
cane misbehaving boys. "I did it a couple of times and felt
totally disgusted by it." The most-respected teachers in
schools he taught at in corporal-punishment days were ones who
never used the cane.
When the practice was banned, there was a "polarised"
debate and some people still argued today that schools should be
allowed to cane or strap pupils, but Mr Lancaster said there were
very few educationists in New Zealand who would hold that view.
He said it was hard to tell what the effect of ending corporal
punishment had been on students' long-term behaviour.
"But it has made more schools look at the issue of what's
effective punishment, and what changes behaviour, far more
seriously than they did before. "I'm not saying discipline
doesn't matter -- discipline does matter enormously -- but that
(corporal punishment) isn't an appropriate source of
The Press, Copyright of Fairfax New Zealand
Limited 2003, All rights reserved.