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School CP - May 2013

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Arab News, Jeddah, 9 May 2013

Teachers favor corporal punishment

By Fadia Jiffry

The Kingdom is trying to implement a ban on chastisement in schools as part of a global initiative to end corporal punishment.

According to regular circulars issued by the Ministry of Education, schools in the Kingdom are advised not to use corporal punishment. This rule is applicable to all stages of general education and penalties have been created to prevent teachers from using force to discipline students. However, there is still no precise prohibition framework.

Teachers say that a ban on corporal punishment in schools might lead to undisciplined students.

"Students in this generation are very hard to control without beating," says Ahmad Oraif, a high school teacher. "Corporal punishments in schools need to be allowed to reflect the teacher's authority in class, at least to a certain degree. For example, in my situation, I find it very hard to control big students, especially when I try to reprimand them for their mistakes. They don't pay attention to what I say and don't treat me with the respect I deserve as a teacher."

He adds that disciplining a child with a stick is much more effective than trying to discipline a child verbally. "Most of us teachers fear the vengeance high school students are capable of. After-school hours are usually the time when angry students attack their teachers."

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Oraif says he uses the ruler as a prop to maintain discipline for students he privately tutors. "Apart from just the respect it provides, I find these students producing results, which is why I think corporal punishment in schools is important, although I wouldn't suggest severe punishment."

"Banning corporal punishment in public schools will be a big threat to teachers," says Afa Binladin, principal of a public school in Jeddah. "There are many complains that most high school students are already very tough to control and a ban on using sticks to discipline would only make it worse."

"I don't support such forms of punishment, especially not severe punishment, which causes facial mutilation and it creates many psychological consequences," says Dr. Khalid Al-Oufi, consultant psychiatrist and medical director at Al-Amal Hospital. "Corporal punishment affects the self-confidence of a student. It leads to the development of weak personalities and provokes angry and hostile behavior among students."

Al-Oufi says there are other ways in which teachers can deal with students. "Teachers can use positive reinforcement, either by praising, thanking or encouraging them for good behavior. Teachers can also use negative reinforcement by depriving students of the things they like, by not allowing them to go for their break time, by asking them to stand up, by not giving them high marks or by using the psychological punishment such as time out."

A global report released in 2012 to end legislated violence against children said 117 states worldwide had prohibited corporal punishment in schools, while 81 states had neither prohibited nor enforced the law yet, with Saudi Arabia listed among these countries.

The report also said 46.3 percent of the global child population was protected by law from corporal punishment at schools.

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