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School CP - January 2009

Corpun file 21075

The Daily Nation, Barbados, 19 January 2009

Limited lashing

Griffith-Watson: Flogging should be used sparingly in schools

Corporal punishment will not be removed from the law books.

"The Ministry has had no discussion about removing corporal punishment. I believe it would be retained but there will be clear guidelines . . . ," Chief Education Officer Dr Wendy Griffith-Watson said at a recent meeting of the Deacons Primary School's Parent-Teacher Association.

Press cutting - click to enlarge (Image will open in a new window)
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Last June, Minister of Education Ronald Jones said in an interview with THE NATION the ministry had to examine flogging in school. He said he was not aware that offenders were "flogged with the birch and things like that any more".

The Chief Education Officer told her audience that flogging should not be the only method of discipline used in the classroom because some children did not respond to it, and furthermore it should be used sparingly "like a medicine".

She added: "We have to be sensible but we do believe it should remain on the statute books; and we will have a committee very soon to look at how [and] under what conditions . . . . The day that we put conditions it is going to limit the use even more, and that is something I supposed we avoided and left it to the discretion of the principal.

"But there are times when teachers who don't have the authority to use corporal punishment still do, because it is from habit.

"We hit people when they don't do what we want them to do and that has been how we raised children for years. Be sensible. Be sensible," the Chief Education Officer cautioned.

Griffith-Watson and principal of the Garrison Secondary School, Matthew Farley, were discussing the topic Is It Time To Put The Brakes On Flogging In Schools? at the PTA meeting.

She added: "I too don't want to give the impression that corporal punishment is that widespread. The unfortunate thing is that during every school year we get reports where children, some[at] primary school, are bruised.

"I think the problems at secondary school are so serious that giving a child lashes will not help."

Griffith-Watson also noted that if parents did not want their children to be lashed, they could bring a letter from a doctor or psychiatrist.

Farley said that the "use of corporal punishment in schools is on the decline" and it was not a case of principals and teachers beating children all day.

"I believe that in the interest of fairness, in the interest of avoiding injury to children, that we should retain [corporal punishment] as one of many options but that we should specify the instrument, the condition under which it should be done . . . . "I think we need to move in this direction in terms of specifying. We know who and when but we should say what and under what conditions.

"I don't want to live to see the day when there is a total free-for-all in schools where we do not have access to that as an option . . . .I do not believe that we should have every teacher doing it. I feel that the current situation is a compromise," said the principal. (DS)

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