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School CP - November 2002

Irish Examiner, Cork, 1 November 2002

Senator backs corporal punishment

By Michael Brennan

A FIANNA Fáil senator has said corporal punishment should be brought back in schools in a bid to curb lawlessness.

Senator Jim Walsh said allowing teachers to give pupils a slap on the wrist may counteract the 'lack of discipline in society'.

"People are getting the attitude that they can go unpunished. There is a lack of respect and a lack of discipline. That creates a disregard for property and other human beings. I think the lack of corporal punishment is a contributory factor to this lawlessness."

Mr Walsh said he would like to see research on how crime has been affected since the abolition of corporal punishment in 1982.

As Fianna Fáil's Seanad spokesman on Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Walsh brought up the issue of corporal punishment in the Seanad last week.

"Obviously, no one wants to see a return to the abuses of corporal punishment. It could be pretty brutal and people who got bad beatings were certainly scarred by it. But in a politically correct society, we may have gone too far in the other direction," he said.

But Mr Walsh's comments were rejected by the teachers' unions and the ISPCC. Corporal punishment is a relic of a bygone era, according to the INTO.

"This is the 20th anniversary of its abolition by Education Minister John Boland. Schools are happier places now and we do not want it back," said general secretary John Carr.

The ASTI said corporal punishment was not the answer to discipline problems in schools and society.

"Schools need to enforce a code of discipline but there are plenty of other options open to them. They can give students extra tasks, remove privileges or suspend or expel them.

"Most of all though, we need to improve discipline by improving the pupil-teacher ratio," said ASTI deputy general secretary John Whyte.

© Irish Examiner, 2002, Thomas Crosbie Media, TCH

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