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School CP - March 2005

Corpun file 15320


Arab News, Jeddah/Dhahran/Riyadh, 3 March 2005

Cane Them

By Saad Nasser

If you ask me if I support caning of some students in our schools, my answer will be a resounding affirmative. This does not mean, however, that I am in favor of indiscriminate punishment. What I call for is the kind of benign punishment that deters rather than harms. The best we could do in our schools is to apply the teachings of our religion. Punishment should initially be mild and gradual, beginning with advice and slowly advancing, if necessary, to caning.

Islam certainly legislates corporal punishment for certain social crimes and it also allows for the option of retribution. The notions of accepting responsibility for one's own actions and one's accountability before God are central. In addition, Islamic law keeps personal freedom in check by linking it with personal responsibility. Punishment in Islam has nothing to do with the notions of atonement, expiation or wiping away sins.

A crime is essentially an act of injustice against oneself. People differ in their behavior with some doing what should be done without any threat of deterrence; others, on the other hand, have to be led or forced to the right path. Sometimes this only comes about through punishment. It is not necessary to apply the same methods of corporal punishment used in the past. What is intended by caning is that the punishment serve as a deterrent.

It is unfortunate that with the banning of corporal punishment we have begun to see behavior from school children that was previously unknown and unimagined. Things have gotten out of control with school children and students daring to defy, threaten and even assault their teachers. I call for caning to be reinstated.

The general public is certainly in favor of this. If caning were returned to our schools, no disruptive pupils would dare to stand up to their teachers or distract the rest of the class from their work. Once the troublemaker had been caned, the others could get on with studying. The quickest way of restoring discipline to our schools would be to bring back the threat of the cane.

In the past, the mere knowledge that a teacher could use the cane as the ultimate sanction was sufficient to deter all but the most recalcitrant offenders. As a consequence, actual canings were few and classroom discipline was effectively maintained. Corporal punishment is naturally to be applied for disciplinary reasons only and thus limitations could be put on its use.

Copyright: Arab News 2003 All rights reserved.

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