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School CP - November 2019

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Barbados Today, St Michael, 15 November 2019

Lashes to 'ashes'

By Kareem Smith

Government intends to eventually abolish corporal punishment in favour of other alternative methods of discipline says Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw.

While addressing the 14th Annual Child Research Conference at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies of the University of the West Indies on Thursday, Bradshaw acknowledged Government's reluctance to amend section 41 of the Education Act and totally remove corporal punishment represented a deviation from key international obligations.

She however acknowledged that social surveys show Barbadians are still very opposed to its abolition and ultimately Government had not fully implemented suitable alternatives.

"While it is accepted that there is a need to move toward the removal of corporal punishment to ensure compliance with our international obligations, there are still some constraints to be considered. We need to intensify our public education programme, to reach the widest cross section of the population to inculcate among all stakeholders, effective alternative approaches to corporal punishment.

"In more recent times we have implemented a national anti-violence campaign across all schools to combat the upsurge in violence both on and off the compounds and while this programme and the School Positive Behaviour Management Programme (SPBMP) has seen very positive results in schools, there needs to be a national timetable for the removal of corporal punishment and its replacement with effective alternative methods to discipline in the home and in the school environment," said the Minister of Education.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in its General Comment No. 8 (2006) establishes the obligation to prohibit corporal punishment "however light". It further demands that member states make it clear in their legislation that all corporal punishment in all settings should be prohibited without exception.

In this vein, Bradshaw stressed that in schools, use of physical punishments like caning and flogging were only to be used as last resorts and revealed there has been a notable decline in the application of corporal punishment with the expansion of the SPBMP.

"That is, following the exhaustion of varying alternate methods of discipline by legally authorised persons only," she said.

"Since the articulation of the convention on the rights of the child and establishment of the committee for monitoring the rights of the child, there have been intensified efforts to inculcate the use of alternate approaches to reduce and eliminate this form of discipline.

"Ultimately the aim is to develop among students the capacity and the responsibility to manage their own behaviours while teaching them life skills like conflict resolution. In the case of teachers, the aim is to facilitate the development and the use of positive behaviour management strategies thereby eliminating the need to resort to corporal punishment.

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