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School CP - December 1997

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The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, 30 December 1997

New Zealand poll: Let teachers whack kids

Should schools reintroduce corporal punishment for serious student misbehavior?

YES 55.6%

NO 40.2%

Not Sure 4.2%

Children have had it too easy for too long -- that is the view of more than half the people quizzed on school discipline in our summer poll series.

Nearly 56 per cent of people polled said schools should reintroduce corporal punishment for serious misbehaviour. The idea was rejected by 40 per cent of respondents, with 4 per cent not sure. And from the generation which endured the cane, there is an even stronger message to bring back six of the best for the worst classroom offences.

Nearly 70 per cent of people aged over 51 wanted a return to the good old days of teachers meting out justice. They believe the answer to bad behaviour in school is a whack, something teachers have been forbidden to do since a 1990 law change outlawed corporal punishment.

Skyrocketing suspension rates indicate teachers are relying on less violent alternatives to deal with naughty pupils.

People aged 18 to 30, the age bracket which includes those who were the first to escape the wrath of the strap, were against any plans to remove the carrot and replace it with the stick.

Most men were eager to see the return of the cane, but women were not so keen. About 49 per cent of women said yes, and 45 per cent said no.

Only 35 per cent of men did not want a return to the tough old days.

Seven out of ten of those polled who earned less than $l9,000 took a hard line and wanted children to face tougher measures.

Corpun file 3143 at

The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, 30 December 1997

Police minister favours cane as an option in our schools

Poll support for the return of corporal punishment does not surprise Jack Elder. He talks to John Manukia.

Teacher-turned-politician Jack Elder believes the cane should be a punishment option for serious misbehaviour in schools.

He was not surprised by a New Zealand Herald poll showing support for corporal punishment to be reinstated.

The Labour Government abolished corporal punishment in its last year of office in 1990.

Mr Elder, who was then a Labour MP, was one of four from the party who crossed the floor and voted with the National MPs against the move.

The poll revealed that nearly 70 per cent of people were in favour of disobedient pupils being caned or strapped for outright ill-discipline.

Mr Elder, now the Minister of Police and a New Zealand First MP, carried out his own poll in 1995 which showed similar opinions.

"I'm more inclined to leave the decision to use the cane open to the schools and the parents of the pupils concerned," he said.

"If they want to use it, then it's up to them."

His opinion has not changed, but he was quick to add that it was his personal view, not the Government stance.

Mr Elder said Parliament's removal of one form of punishment for serious offences had forced some schools to concentrate on other punishments, including suspensions and expulsions

School principals contacted by the Herald yesterday were not in favour of corporal punishment returning to the schools.

The principal of Massey High School, Bruce Ritchie, labelled the concept a "dead duck."

Reinstating corporal punishment was a backward step in a world where people were trying to eliminate all forms of violent disciplinary action, he said.

"Bringing it back wouldn't do any more good than what's on offer at the moment in terms of punishment in schools.

"It was ineffective and unfair when it was around, because boys were allowed to be caned but girls could not be."

Mr Ritchie favours a more constructive method such the "broken window" concept used in New York schools.

"The parents are brought in at a very early stage to help the situation," he said.

"Schools get to deal with the small things to prevent the big things developing and occurring.

"Get rid of the big problem before it actually starts.

The principal of Otahuhu College, Bill Gavin, said: "It is more a job for the school and the parents of the concerned pupil to work together in eliminating the problems."

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