|www.corpun.com : Archive : 1976 to 1995 : NZ Schools Jun 1995|
Corpun file 6810 at www.corpun.com
Evening Post, Wellington, 16 June 1995
School invites parents to carry out punishment
By Donald Matheson
Wainuiomata Christian College is the fourth Wellington Christian school to bend the law by bringing in parents to administer corporal punishment.
An audit by the Education Review Office said the board of the tiny Christian school used corporal punishment in a "controlled and defined" manner as part of the school philosophy.
The Education Review Office knows of only two other fundamentalist Christian schools outside Wellington continuing the practice after being told it is illegal under both the Crimes and the Education Acts. However, some schools it has not audited may still be caning.
Homeleigh Christian School in Masterton, Jireh Christian School in Island Bay and Silverstream Christian School in Upper Hutt all advocate punishing serious misbehaviour physically, although they say it rarely happens.
Otamatea School in Northland says physical force is used occasionally and Southland Christian College in Invercargill says parents "paddled" students on premises twice last year.
The schools say they are within the law to invite parents to the school to administer the punishment. The Education Act says no person employed or supervising in a school may use force against a student "unless that person is a guardian of the student or child".
Caning was made illegal in 1990 in an amendment to the Act and is now recognised as assault under the Crimes Act. But the authorities disagree over whether the schools have found a loophole or not because it has never been tested in court.
Education Ministry Wellington manager Roger McElroy said his lawyers agreed with the schools, although parents who were trustees or managers could be breaking the law.
Commissioner for Children's Office senior adviser Beth Wood cited lawyer Robert Ludbrook who wrote in 1991 that a parent who caned a child at a teacher's instigation could be party to the teacher's assault.
However, the law is not likely to be tested and the caning will continue. Neither the Ministry nor the Commissioner for Children's Office would prosecute a school or teacher but would wait for parents to complain and direct them to the police, who could lay assault charges.
That is not likely to happen at these schools as the parents are in favour of the policy.
Mr McElroy said he had written to Jireh Christian School and Wainuiomata Christian College asking them to confirm their policies but they had not yet written back. The Commissioner for Children's Office said it chose to work through educating parents about the negative effects of hitting rather than taking legal action.
The Christian schools, all of them private, believe they should obey the law of God above secular law and are lobbying for caning to be decriminalised. Corporal punishment became illegal in 1990.
Homeleigh principal Herm Zandman said corporal punishment had been abused by some in the past, but it was a legitimate form of discipline.
"They (the Education Ministry) should respect the prepossessions of different religious and ethnic groups. That has been their approach with Maori and Samoan groups."
Labour education spokeswoman Margaret Austin said the Education Ministry was abdicating its responsibility by not considering prosecuting the schools.
THE ARCHIVE index
About this website
www.corpun.com Main menu page