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School CP - December 2000

Edmonton Sun, Alberta, 3 December 2000

Mom Tears Strip Off Schools In Strap Dispute

By Kevin Connor
Edmonton Sun

Sandy Koroll is blistering mad students can still be given the strap because her school district hasn't removed corporal punishment from its books.

The Leduc-area mom and parent council committee member wants the Black Gold School District to ban the strap and strike corporal punishment from the rule books.

Koroll says she is gaining enough support to make area school trustees abolish "this form of child abuse.

"The school district doesn't want to remove corporal punishment because they say they'll have nothing to hold over the kids to keep them in line - that's ridiculous," Koroll said.

"There are alternatives. Suspend the problem child and say they can't come back until the parent sits in the class with them for a week. Make the parents be parents."

Or, if the child has done something illegal, get police involved, she said.

"My kids never visit the principal's office but that's not the point. Most of the kids who get into trouble are bullies with no self-esteem or have no family life. Strapping isn't going to work on them," Koroll said.

Using the strap isn't illegal in Alberta schools, said John Bole, the district's superintendent.

"It's a form of discipline that each community school decides is appropriate or not. Some parents are in favour of it. They don't want their kids suspended. They want us to give the strap and then get on with things," Bole said.

"We are protected from criminal prosecution because corporal punishment is still on the books in Alberta."

If a strap is used and it causes an injury, then that is child abuse, said Edmonton police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Anderson.

"If that was the case, the school district could be charged."

Section 43 of the Criminal Code says parents and teachers can use force to discipline kids, but to what extent is vague, said Chris Levy, a law professor at the University of Calgary.

"Anything more than trivial temporary discomfort is too much. Anything that damages or breaks the skin is unacceptable," said Levy.

"You don't whip a student for dozing off - punching out a teacher may be a different issue.

"The school district needs to be very cautious because the courts don't accept what they accepted 20 years ago."

Last week an Ontario judge found a woman guilty of assault for spanking her four-year-old son with a wooden stick, even though the marks left by the beating weren't long-lasting.

"There are parents who believe 'spare the rod and spoil the child' - but that's not what the law says," the judge ruled.

Strapping a child is an archaic practice that doesn't help shape positive behaviour, said Dr. Stephen Carter, executive director of the Psychologists' Association of Alberta.

"It's like suspending a student for skipping school."

Edmonton schools banned the strap in the early 1990s.

Corporal punishment has been banned in provincial education acts in Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, according to the Canadian School Boards Association.

"It's only a matter of time before it's banned in Alberta," said Koroll.

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