corpunWorld Corporal Punishment Research

ruler   :  Archive   :  2003   :  MY Schools Oct 2003



School CP - October 2003

Corpun file 12087


Straits Times, Singapore, 6 October 2003

Abdullah supports using cane in school

But the DPM also cautions against abuse should the Education Ministry expand caning powers to control unruly students

By Reme Ahmad
in Kuala Lumpur

SPARE the rod and spoil the child? Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would seem to agree.

He has concurred with an Education Ministry's proposal to expand the power of caning students to all teachers, instead of just the disciplinary masters and principals.

This followed shocking cases of fighting among students, and reports quoting a ministry official saying that 76,300 students had disciplinary problems, including gangsterism, last year.

But Datuk Seri Abdullah said care must be taken to avoid abuse, and he suggested more discussions between parents and schools before implementing the move in the classroom or during school assemblies.

'I personally would not stop the ministry from implementing caning in schools as long as it is not excessive,' he said.

'We know that children normally fear caning, either in school or at home.

'I agree with caning but there is concern that if all teachers are given the power, there will be excessive caning,' he said in Ipoh on Saturday, in response to questions from reporters.

Yesterday, Datuk Seri Abdullah added that he wants teachers to be trained as counsellors to help troubled students.

The ministry had in 1997 ruled that only principals and discipline masters could use the rod.

But its director-general, Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat, said recently that all teachers should be allowed to discipline those in their classes. It proposed giving canes to all teachers, amid reports of ill discipline and fighting among groups of students.

A student nearly lost his wrist just two weeks ago after being slashed in a fight between two groups of 22 students in Perak.

This was just days after 12 students ganged up to beat a schoolmate at a matriculation hostel in Malacca.

These two incidents were widely reported in the media and raised alarm bells among educators, parents and government officials.

Malaysian officials, however, were quick to point out that the 76,300 problematic students were less than 1.2 per cent of the total student population of seven million nationwide. Many felt the cane should be used sparingly.

National Unity and Community Development Minister Siti Zaharah Sulaiman said yesterday that children should be caned only in serious cases.

Punishment is a last resort, added a columnist in Mingguan Malaysia newspaper.

Perak's education director, Datuk Adnan Ibrahim, said teachers would use the cane sparingly because they 'fear parents making police reports and the issue being brought to courts and causing problems'.

Copyright @ 2003 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 12109


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 7 October 2003

Good to revive caning in schools, says Rais

PENANG: Reviving caning in schools is justifiable as indiscipline has reached alarming heights, Minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said.

Agreeing with the Education Ministry that teachers should be allowed to cane naughty students, Dr Rais said it was not against the law to do so, adding that many schoolchildren had been caned after the country's independence.

"Based on the current discipline situation, it is proper to revive caning in schools because if not checked, it would lead to other menaces," he said when opening a seminar on the "Roles and Responsibilities of Justices of Peace (JPs) Towards the Development of the Community" organised by the state council of JPs here yesterday.

Dr Rais said parents would not be able to sue the school if caning was sanctioned under the law.

He said a provision had to be added to the Education Act to mete out such corporal punishment.

Dr Rais also said it was high time activities to keep the school environment clean and presentable were revived.

"We need to get students involved in activities such as cleaning the toilets and participating in landscaping works to give them a sense of responsibility," he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had said he supported caning in schools, adding, however, that caution was needed in implementing it.

The Congress of Teachers Union in the Education Service said the decision to allow all teachers to cane students must be supported by legal and moral protection from police reports or civil suits.

Its secretary-general Shahul Hamid Mydin Shah said: "The ministry must ensure teachers are provided legal and moral support. Otherwise, they will be left alone to face possible police investigation if parents of affected students lodge reports."

1995-2002 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 12196


Daily Express, Kota Kinabalu, 8 October 2003

'Allow it only for certain categories'

Kota Kinabalu: Punishment for students must be categorised because not all breaches of discipline warrant caning.

The Education Department should establish these categories in consultation with the Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) in the State, said Sabah Government Teachers Union President Mohamad Yussof Mattaim.

"There are categories to be established. Caning should be only for serious offences like gangsterism, smoking and vandalism," he said Tuesday.

"Right now, the serious offences in schools are reported to the Disciplinary Unit in the Education Department," he said, adding caning in State schools was not common due to complaints from parents.

Yussof called for a state-level PTA council to be set up first so communication between the department, union and the parents could be improved.

Yussof said the union would be meeting with a pro-tem PTA council to discuss a formula for caning to submit to the department.

"We'll meet end of the year or early next year," he said, adding that the NUTP and the Education Ministry would be involved as well.

Copyright Daily Express, Sabah, Malaysia

Corpun file 12111


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 9 October 2003

Musa: Teachers can cane students

By Gavin Gomez


KUALA LUMPUR: All teachers are now empowered to wield the rod to discipline students in view of increased incidents of indiscipline in schools.

"We want to give schools the maximum tools to discipline students and this includes giving full empowerment to teachers to use the cane," Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad said.

He added that school heads would have to authorise specific teachers to punish with the cane. Currently, only the school head and discipline teacher are empowered to do so.

"For example, in a school where all teachers are involved in disciplining students, all can be authorised by the school head to cane.

"The decision is up to each headmaster or principal," Musa said after chairing his ministry's post-Cabinet meeting yesterday.

This is an extension of powers to discipline from the 1996 decision announced by former Education Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, empowering only school heads and discipline teachers to cane students.

On possible cases of teachers abusing their new power, Musa said teachers were already trained on disciplining procedures.

Education director-general Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat, who was also present at the press conference, added that under the Education Ordinance 1957: Education Rules (School Discipline) 1959, students could only be caned on their palms and covered buttocks. Females are exempted from caning.

In the past week, various quarters have come forward in support of giving teachers increased powers to discipline students, including Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.


1995-2002 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 12149


New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 14 October 2003

Only headmaster should cane pupils

I HAVE been following the debate on maintaining discipline in schools by allowing more teachers to use the cane.

I feel a proper study is necessary and it must also involve parents. In the 1960s and 1970s, only the headmaster was allowed to use the cane in his room, classroom or assembly hall.

This was a time when teachers were more concerned about the welfare of students and committed to nurturing their pupils to be disciplined and courteous.

Moreover, teachers and parents respected each other. There was much honour in the profession, and students, however naughty, did submit to guidance and counsel from teachers.

As a father of children who were in school during the 1980s and 1990s, I cannot say the same for a good percentage of the teachers, especially the male teachers. Many of them are not as tolerant as their peers in earlier days. They seem to be easily provoked even by the slightest of mistakes made by students. And some male teachers seem to like to beat the more fractious boys. Some students have even been kicked or pinched. At times, the cane has been used unofficially and students have been warned not to complain to their parents about it.

My children have experienced this and many parents have also talked about this type of punishment imposed on their children.

Can you imagine what might happen if teachers are given blanket approval to use the cane by the headmaster? I feel the authority to cane should be given only to the headmaster who must only use it as a last resort.

Kuala Lumpur

New Straits Times (M) Berhad

Corpun file 12188


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 17 October 2003

Benefits of caning outweigh its flaws

I READ this week of your Education Ministry's decision to retain caning in Malaysian schools.

As a parent myself (my son is nine) and as someone who attended schools where the cane was used, I want to express my admiration for this stand.

In too many places the world over, the proper disciplining of children in school and at home is becoming very difficult.

Here in New York my wife works as a teacher in the private school system and finds the imposition of any form of meaningful punishment almost impossible.

We have been told for 30 years by campaigners for children's rights that punishment causes bad behaviour. This is nonsense.

In schools in England there has been no corporal punishment for more than a decade, and behaviour has declined.

Teachers now have to spend much more time in class on disciplinary issues, and as a consequence there is less time for teaching, and educational standards are falling.

A recent report by Sheffield University noted that students getting B grades in A-Levels Maths today would have failed the examination 10 years ago.

It is hard, as a parent today, to discipline your child, because of the weight of ill-informed, unscientific opinion that claim discipline is a negative thing.

Things have gotten so bad here that the local government has to run advertisements in the subway telling parents that being strict with your kids is okay.

It is my fervent hope, as Malaysia continues to turn out fine young students who are academically ahead of their peers in the UK and the US, that eventually even the most die-hard "pro-child" advocates will have to concede that the benefits of proper discipline for the majority far outweigh the problems caused by misuse of the cane in a tiny minority of cases.

New York.
(via e-mail)

1995-2002 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 12184


New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 17 October 2003

Spare the rod and you spoil the child

I REFER to the letter "Caning can lead to punitive environment" (NST, Oct 15). During my secondary school days in the early 1980s, public caning was coming to an end but I did see my fair share of public caning done by the headmaster on students who broke the rules. Public caning instilled fear in us and we would think twice before breaking the school rules.

If students were to be caned in public, their parents would know about it. No matter how naughty or notorious a student is, he would always fear his parents. This provided a check and balance.

Parents would feel ashamed when their child was publicly caned. Hence, they may pay more attention to find out why the student broke the rules.

Rules and regulations are made so that there will be order in our everyday lives. If rules and regulations can be broken with impunity, then it defeats the purpose of having them. If one breaks them, one has to face the music. Today, I see members of the public trying to push the law to see to what extent they can go.

I believe caning needs to be reintroduced in schools. This is the best time to have students learn that they will be punished if they break the rules.

Petaling Jaya

New Straits Times (M) Berhad

Corpun file 12189


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 19 October 2003

Wisdom and folly in wielding the rod

Compiled by Joanne Lim

ASK any student what they fear the most in school and the mostly likely answer will be: the rotan. The thin, long cane used to inflict pain on students serves as a harsh reminder that school rules are not to be broken.

Depending on the offence, done deliberately or otherwise, once caught, students are usually subjected to a good dose of caning, either in the office or during the weekly assembly for all to see.

In view of the growing incidence of indiscipline in schools, Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad recently announced that all teachers would be empowered to wield the rod to discipline students. However, girls are exempted from this form of punishment.

Senior schoolboy being caned in school office

While some parents are aghast at the thought of anyone laying a finger on their children, others are all for allowing teachers to discipline their young with the rod and help them turn over a new leaf.

So, is caning too severe a punishment for boys? Will it yield the desired results in instilling discipline, or should it only be used as a last resort on incorrigible students?

StarEducation talks to students and parents on whether bringing back the rod can help turn naughty boys into “good students” and instil respect for authority.

THE Education Ministry should draw up guidelines to determine what “crimes” warrant caning. Some times, a stern warning is sufficient and we shouldn’t resort to using the cane for every single offence, even things like talking in class. That would be outrageous. Teachers must also be open to what students have to say ... about their reasons for disobeying the rules. On many occasions, “problem” students usually have bigger problems at home – from broken homes or single parents. I urge the school authorities to give them a chance before taking such painful actions. – Supiah Ramachandran, parent

TEACHERS have to realise that they’ve not been given a green light to cane as they like. Guidelines are very important and proper investigation needs to be conducted before deciding on a punishment. – Mohd Amir Shafarudin, parent

STUDENTS will begin to detest going to school and some have an immense fear of getting onto the bus. How’s that going to help produce students who love studying and obtain excellent results? – Sharifah Samsuddin, parent

IF my son fought with his friend or broke a window, then cane him. It depends on the severity of the offence. Don’t terrify him so much that he hates the idea of going to school. – Maria Fernandez, parent

I THINK all naughty kids should be caned as they are becoming increasingly spoilt, are not at all disciplined and are not scared of anything or anyone. – Elaine Kong, parent

YES, cane him for not paying attention in class or playing around when the teacher is teaching, if not he will continue distracting others around him. – Syafiqul Mohd Kasim, 10

IF he is jahat, then why not? It’s good to punish someone who has done wrong but of course there should be limits as to the amount of punishment, and to what he does to deserve caning. If he gets involved in gang fights or ponteng sekolah (plays truant), then he deserves to the caned, but only after he has been given warning. – Asmayah Awie

I WAS caned once on my punggung (buttocks) because I didn’t complete my homework on time. I realised it was my fault as the teacher had given us warning beforehand. Of course it was painful, but it served as a good reminder. Everyday after school, I make sure my homework is done; so I think caning is good to a certain extent. – Syubaili Maili, 17

AS a father of three and a lecturer at Giatmara, I believe that public caning can be a good thing. When other students see another being punished this way, they will usually not commit the similar offence. However, not everyone should be allowed to use the rod – only the discipline teacher and the school head. Of course, this may be humiliating for the student and he may be in shock, which is why there is always a need for counselling after caning. The same applies at home with both my sons. – Azman Abdul Majid

I AGREE with Dad. It’s good to cane students if they break the rules or get involved in gang fights even after receiving warning from school authorities. It’s even better to cane in public because other students would be frightened. – Asyraf Azman, 15

CANE only if the student is caught smoking, playing truant, or destroying school property. Caning a student for not completing homework is quite a harsh punishment. – Rajendran Kalaithyaman, 17

FIND out what’s the problem before using the cane. Students might be undisciplined because of problems at home. I think counselling is a better alternative than using the cane. It does not work for everyone. – Kartik Pandiaraja, 17

I THINK public caning is really bad. Don’t humiliate people. It’s not right. – Saravanan Chandran, 17

USE the rod only when the situation warrants it, and do it in private, not in front of other students because hurting a student’s pride will not teach him anything. He’ll only become more rebellious and angry for being humiliated in front of his friends. For teachers who are allowed to cane, think of yourselves as a parent rather than a teacher and do it without embarrassing the student. – Soo Yim Leng

EMBARRASING the student is good because it’s effective. If he’s involved in smoking and drugs, he should be punished publicly, but if it’s about not completing homework or talking in class, I don’t think it’s necessary to use the cane at all. It’s too harsh a punishment. – Brandon Soo, 16

I DON’T exactly like the idea of having a teacher cane my son for forgetting his book or not doing his homework. If he’s involved in a fight, then go ahead and discipline him, because I would do that too at home. At the end of the day, if you use the cane for every single offence, you can be sure that it will lose its effect and students wouldn’t even care about being caned. – Law Lai Fong

IT works for guys. Actually, I think caning is fine for students who are difficult to discipline. Sometimes, students take advantage of teachers who are patient and kind by breaking the rules, not completing their homework and creating havoc in class. When the teachers loses her patience and uses the cane, the student runs home and complaints to his parent, and suddenly, the blame is entirely on the teacher. I think that’s really unfair. If you don’t want to be caned, then behave yourself. – Lee Yep Hong, 17

IT is not advisable to cane students for light offences such as not handing in an assignment unless they have been forewarned three times or more. If it’s really serious, then by all means cane him and make it hurt so he will remember what he has done wrong and not repeat the offence. I don’t think counselling and being patient works with all students. Some just deserve the cane. – Mervyn Gan, 17

IT’S not good to use the cane because it is really painful. Give us a chance to change. – Navinrao Peter, 10

CANING is effective. After being caned, I will remember never to do it again. – Ilham Abdul Razak, 10

IF you fight in school then teacher will surely rotan. It is not painful if it is on the backside. – Afizul Jefri, 12

SOME teachers cane with a lot of anger in them and it’s really painful. Patut rotan dengan kasih sayang (Discipline with love.) – Alif Basharudin, 11

I THINK if it’s a serious offence, then use pain to discipline the student, otherwise, caning should be on parts of the body that don’t hurt as much. Whatever it is, teachers should have a good reason for using the cane and students should be more obedient in school, for their own good. – Yong Yoke Lan

I WAS caned before for talking in class. Of course, I did it again because I am human and humans make mistakes. Sometimes, we forget to do things and I don’t think we should be punished for such minor offences. I was caned 15 times because I talked in class and 50 times on my palm because I didn’t do my homework. – Yap Chee Wai, 12

I THINK caning should only be a last resort for students who fail to respond to any other form of discipline because it has negative effects on students, emotionally and psychologically. – Shamnath Segar, 15

I FORGOT to bring my textbooks once and was caned by the teacher. Since then, I’ve been bringing my books without fail and taking extra care to check my schoolbag twice before going to school. Caning students can be helpful but don’t humiliate the student in public because his friends may start teasing him and would eventually lead to gang fights. – Sheikh Najimudin, 15

1995-2002 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 12190


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 20 October 2003

Teachers exercise care when caning

TEACHERS are now allowed to use the cane. It is hoped that parents will give their full support and not be unduly worried.

Caning students in school is often executed with great care. Only qualified and experienced teachers are given the job to wield the cane.

Most of these teachers have mastered the art of caning, not to inflict harm but to help the students with severe disciplinary problems to turn over a new leaf.

They administer the cane judiciously.

Whether a student is caned on his palm or buttocks, the teacher entrusted with this responsibility is bound to follow procedures spelt out by the Education Ministry.

The teacher will size up the student who comes up to him for caning and he will also ask the student a few pertinent questions. At times, experience tells him that a student may not be a candidate to receive caning.

There are some students who may not be physically fit to be caned while there are others who would probably be badly affected psychologically by the punishment.

Students hail from diverse backgrounds. Some of them come to school with more problems than their peers.

The teacher may decide to temper mercy with justice and resort to alternative forms of punishment and follow up with "field counselling" which is a laborious and time-consuming task.

There are unwritten checks and balances to safeguard the interest and safety of the students.

Teachers doing the caning would try to be unbiased and free from prejudice, display an even temperament and be in the correct frame of mind at the place and time of caning.

They would again ensure the student hauled up has not been coerced into admission for the offence that he has purportedly committed.

And they must see to it that the offence committed by the student is shown beyond doubt to be true before commencing caning.

These are some of the considerations experienced teachers would normally observe before using the rod.

Caning, if well executed, would go a long way to mitigate the problem of indiscipline among students in schools.

Let us not hesitate, but go for it for the sake of our children.

Bukit Mertajam.
(via e-mail)

1995-2002 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 12227


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 23 October 2003

Caning already a norm in Chinese-medium schools

By V.K. Chin

V.K. ChinWHILE the debate on caning remains unabated, the Chinese-medium schools have been meting out this form of punishment for years with little parental objection, at least publicly. 

In this respect, there appears to be a wide gap between the national and vernacular schools over the use of the cane in disciplining pupils. The Chinese-medium schools are already doing it while the national ones are still talking about it. 

The other major difference too is that caning is to be carried out in national type schools only at the secondary level and that girls would be left out of it. 

However, in the Chinese-medium schools, the caning takes place at the primary schools, which are funded by government allocations, and girls are not spared the rod either. 

So the Chinese parents in these schools must be wondering what the fuss is all about as the community has accepted the cane as part of the system unless the punishment is too severe. 

As long as the caning is light, many parents will have to accept this practice though reluctantly and complaining will often fall on deaf ears. In fact if parents were to complain to the headmaster or teacher concerned, they would most probably be told that if they were not happy they could always place their children in another school. 

This situation usually occurs in schools which are described as highly-competitive and parents are prepared to accept caning because their children are doing well in their studies. 

Therefore if they should pull their loved ones out of such schools, there would be hundreds of parents just waiting to fill up any vacancy as the waiting list is usually very long. 

This is not to say that the children are not affected by such caning which is being meted for quite minor offences, such as not doing their homework, forgetting to bring a book, not paying attention in class or coming late. 

Some children are reported to be so scared of being caned that they have refused to go to school and their parents are forced to send them to another school. 

This is the price that many Chinese parents are prepared to pay for their children's education. As long as the school has a reputation for good examination results, parents will continue to vie for places there. 

But it is still necessary for the Education Department to monitor the caning policy of these vernacular schools so that the teachers do not cross the line in their eagerness to get their pupils to score well in their examinations. 

Children under 12 years, unless they are exceptionally naughty, should not be caned unnecessarily as many of them may not be able to withstand such punishment.  

1995-2002 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

blob THE ARCHIVE index  Main menu page

Copyright Colin Farrell 2003, 2004
Page updated February 2004