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School CP - November 2004

Corpun file 14685

Daily Herald-Tribune, Grande Prairie, Alberta, 19 November 2004

Peace Wapiti scraps strap

Last area board to end punishment

By Debi Ruhl
Herald-Tribune staff

Following a decision made last spring by the Supreme Court of Canada, Peace Wapiti administrators will now have to spare the strap.

Although using physical force to discipline kids at school is not common practice, until Thursday, the Peace Wapiti School Board was the only school board in the area with a policy allowing corporal punishment.

Now, under section 43 of the Criminal Code, corporal punishment in schools is no longer considered reasonable discipline and therefore any policy allowing it had to be rescinded.

"There is an exemption in the legislation that exempts parents and teachers from an assault charge but they have redefined what is acceptable and what is not," said deputy Supt. Sheldon Rowe. "It is still acceptable for a teacher to remove a student from class but corporal punishment is not acceptable because it uses a weapon."

Defined as "the application of a strap to the inside of the hands of a student," corporal punishment has always been fraught with controversy but was used as more of a threat than an actual punishment.

Written parental approval was required before the strap was administered.

"The use of it at all of our schools will have to end and all the principals have been informed of that," Rowe said, noting it was still only ever a consideration at the Hutterite colony schools and even then was used very rarely.

"I was a teacher and principal for 27 years and only used it three times myself but sometimes it was needed as a last resort."

With the end of the policy, all straps will have to be removed from schools immediately.

"They will have to be removed completely from all of our buildings," said chief deputy Supt. Don Jenkins. "In the past, it was always used more as a threat than as a weapon."

Copyright 2003 Daily Herald -Tribune, a division of Quebecor Media

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