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School CP - April 1996
Evening Post, Wellington, 15 April 1996
Bring back cane, says trustee
By Donald Matheson
Auckland's School Trustees Association president has called for a return to corporal punishment for extreme cases.
John Riddell blamed the rapid increase in suspensions in recent years on the Government's ban on corporal punishment.
Corporal punishment is illegal under the Education Act and legal experts say it could also constitute assault.
Education Minister Wyatt Creech last week announced his intention to tighten up on schools' reporting of suspensions. He did not blame schools for the rise in suspensions but quoted from yet-to-be-released statistics that nine seven-year-olds were suspended last year.
Labour has released statistics showing 8850 students were suspended in 1995.
Mr Riddell said smacking, caning or strapping errant students should only be done in conjunction with parents and should not be administered by the teacher in the classroom.
It should be seen as another option for school discipline, he said.
Wellington Activity Centre director Steve Coward agreed a single, swift smack could solve some discipline issues because it re-established who had authority.
But School Trustees Association deputy president Janet Kelly distanced the organisation from Mr Riddell's comments. She said some schools were becoming frustrated at the lack of help from outside agencies and saw corporal punishment as the answer. She said there was no guarantee caning would solve problems.
Mr Coward said suspensions were becoming more common because support structures for parents and schools had disappeared.
He said almost all groups which used to work with teenagers had disappeared or had their funding cut in recent years. He had called for more staff to cater for the growing numbers of problem students being referred to him but had been ignored.
Upper Hutt College principal Peter Lee said caning was not a solution. He said schools only suspended students a tiny minority of students who did not respond to other discipline measures.
Supplied by New Zealand Press Association
Evening Post, Wellington, 25 April 1996
Much tougher discipline necessary in our schools
YOU reported that Education Minister Wyatt Creech is concerned at the number of pupils being suspended by schools (The Post, April 12).
It seems that the number of suspensions have almost doubled since 1990.
This is hardly surprising since it was just before 1990 that the Government made corporal punishment in schools illegal.
Prior to this move, schools could effectively discipline pupils using corporal punishment.
The use of corporal punishment meant children respected authority and the rule in law in schools, and thus were not nearly so willing to break the rules.
When the Labour Government abolished corporal punishment in schools, a move that had no mandate from parents, schools were left with no effective way of enforcing their rules.
Accordingly, more and more children have seen that they can literally do what they like in schools, and no one can do anything about it except suspend them.
If the Minister is sincere about reducing the number of school suspensions, he could do no better than to implement his National Party's 1990 election promise and return the right to boards of trustees to decide whether to use corporal punishment.
This is clearly a matter that should be decided by parents. The State's opinion should not be imposed on them.
M J SHIERLAW
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