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School CP - October 2005

Corpun file 16800

Taipei Times, 7 October 2005

Corporal punishment in schools a divisive issue

EMOTIONAL TOPIC: Several civic groups spoke out against teachers hitting pupils, while some principals defended the practice, saying it was a matter of culture

By Jean Lin
Staff Reporter

Banning corporal punishment in schools was a topic that drew several legislators, school principals and representatives of civic groups to a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

At issue is the feasibility of incorporating a ban on corporal punishment in schools by amending the Fundamental Law on Education.

The Humanistic Education Foundation, the National Alliance of Parents Association (NAPA) and the National Teachers' Association all said they were against teachers using corporal punishment, but they voiced differing concerns in terms of amending the law.

Shih Ying, the founder of the Humanistic Education Foundation, said there may be good motives for such a punishment, but corporal punishment injures students both mentally and physically.

Shih cited the example of Germany, which amended its laws in 2000 to state that "Children have a right to be brought up without the use of force. Physical punishment, the causing of psychological harm and other degrading measures are forbidden."

Yao Jung-hua, principal of Ming-tsu Junior High School, said that corporal punishment in "moderation" was acceptable, as long as teachers refrained from being overly emotional.

Chang Hui-shan, principal of Dong-guan Elementary School in Kaohsiung, corporal punishment should not be banned since this kind of punishment is not a moral issue, but a cultural one.

"It has to do with the conventional values of our country and our culture. The law is not something we can amend now. It is also not a race for us to make the top 50 list of the countries with such laws [banning corporal punishment]," Chang said.

NAPA and other groups said culture should not be used as an excuse because there is a need for a law to protect children at school.

Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng told the hearing that he had begun teaching elementary school at age 18 and had used corporal punishment then. As he grew older, he said, he realized that such punishment was inappropriate, but at 18, he had not been emotionally mature.

Teachers must be professional and emotionally controlled, Tu said.

"Culture is not an excuse. But how will we change existing values? What methods can we use to stop corporal punishment in schools? Is a law really the way to solve the problem?" Tu said.

Several people raised the question of who would bear responsibility if the law was amended and afterward a teacher still used corporal punishment.

They urged the education ministry to carefully review the issue before proposing an amendment to the law.

Copyright 1999-2005 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.

Corpun file 16895, 21 October 2005

Corporal punishment should be banned by law, group advocates

Humanistic Education Foundation reveals video of teacher hitting a student over late homework

By Chang Ling-yin

The Humanistic Education Foundation yesterday again asked for legislation to abolish corporal punishment in schools, after showing video footage of a high-school student being beaten by a teacher.

According to the foundation, a Junior High school student from Taichung Municipal Chu-jen used a cell phone to record footage of a teacher striking another student with a stick.

The 26-second video footage clearly showed a student being struck nine times on the palms and ten times on the buttocks.

According to the foundation, the student was punished because he did not hand in his homework on time.

HEF Director Shih Ying (??) said that the foundation went to the school in question on Tuesday to seek further details of the incident.

"What we want to do is to help schools and teachers to settle such disputes, not to accuse anyone," Shih said.

He related that the school treated the HEF members coldly and at first said it was unable to confirm whether or not the student was registered there.

Then the school's director of student affairs Chou Ming-quan gave the assurance that hitting students with a stick only produces a loud noise but does not really hurt the students, the HEF said.

The school's director of academic affairs Zhu Ying-chuan also said that the teacher in question had expended a lot effort in helping students to learn, the foundation related.

According to the HEF, none of the school authorities asked if the student was hurt.

After the video was made public yesterday, however, the female teacher in question promised that she would never hit students again, while the school stated that its instructor evaluation committee would discuss how to discipline the teacher. But the school also claimed that the student was punished because he frequently neglected to do his homework or bring his books to school and his father has asked the teacher to punish him.

According to the school, the student accepted the punishment without complaint, and his parents did not object to him being punished.

The foundation stressed that the Ministry of Education ten years ago advised against corporal punishment in schools, but incidents of beatings still seem to emerge, therefore the HEF is asking for legislation to ban corporal punishment on school campuses.

The Taichung City Education Bureau expressed regret over the incident and emphasized that corporal punishment is an absolutely unacceptable means of educating students.

Corpun file 16893

BBC News Online, London, 26 October 2005


Taiwan caning sparks heated debate

By Caroline Gluck
BBC, Taipei

A young female teacher in Taiwan repeatedly hits a male student, his hands outstretched, with a wooden stick.

He turns around, and the teacher hits him again on his backside.

A pupil being caned by his teacher in Taiwan

Footage of a pupil being caned was captured on video phone

His "crime" was failing to hand in his homework, 10 days after the deadline.

The video footage, recorded by a pupil on a mobile phone inside the classroom, has aired on Taiwanese television and is fuelling an increasingly heated debate about plans to introduce an amendment to the island's basic education law - to outlaw the use of corporal punishment in schools.

The move has recently received the high-profile backing of President Chen Shui-bian and Prime Minister Frank Hsieh. And it is likely to be passed by Taiwan's parliament, as it has wide cross-party support.

"Corporal punishment has been a cultural practice in Taiwan. But we believe schools and homes are the most important environment for kids to grow up and we need to eliminate this practice," said Guan Bi-ling, a legislator from the governing Democratic Progressive Party, who has introduced the amendment.

"Many countries worldwide have banned corporal punishment in schools by law - including China. We think Taiwan is an advanced country, and we shouldn't trail behind", she said.

But reactions to this recent case have been mixed.

"Some people say we should have considered the position of the teacher," said Kim Wang, of the Humanistic Education Foundation, a non-governmental group which is pushing for a ban of corporal punishment in schools.

"Other parents said they favoured teachers using that kind of method to discipline their children."

The teacher involved in the latest case - at a junior high school in Taichung, central Taiwan - has not faced any disciplinary action, said Xu Yu-shu, deputy director at Taichung City's education bureau.

But he said the case would be discussed by a review committee.

"We really feel bad when we see the pictures," he said. "We are determined to ban corporal punishment, and we will do it.

"But I think we are talking about individual cases. Most teachers are hard working and don't use corporal punishment," he said.


But an island-wide survey carried out this year by the Humanistic Education Foundation suggests such cases are not isolated incidents.

In the poll, in which more than 3,000 junior and primary school children were questioned, more than 65% of students said they had received some kind of corporal punishment at school.

The group defined corporal punishment as "the infliction of physical pain... to cause mental suffering, as a means of punishment".

The results, though, did show a slight drop in reported cases compared with the year before, when more than 72% of students said they had experienced some form of corporal punishment.

That is despite government regulations which theoretically ban the use of corporal punishment. The fact that these regulations are so widely ignored shows why a ban needs to be made law, its supporters say.

"The teacher would sometimes use a wooden stick and rap us on the hands if we didn't get good grades," said one 15-year-old Taipei County schoolgirl, who did not want to give her name.

"But we couldn't complain, because we were afraid of the teacher."

Another 14-year-old girl from Taipei had a similar experience.

"The teacher made us perform physical exercises if we handed in homework late, if we were late to class or didn't get good grades. When I told my parents, they simply said - 'its your fault' and I should accept the punishment.

"Having a law banning corporal punishment is a good idea... but there are regulations against it now - even so, the teachers still punish us!" she said.

But Ying Shih, executive director of the Humanistic Education Foundation, believes a legal ban will help.

"A formal law can influence people's behaviour; and we think this can be done within the next few months. Our organisation was established to accomplish educational reform. But we believe corporal punishment is a very large obstruction right in the middle of the road towards educational reform.

"We teach our child to love people, to be a considerate person. But we do things to let them believe that you can hit everyone you like if that person doesn't obey your command. That's a very big contradiction; and that will destroy everything we teach our children," he said.

blob The video footage referred to above, showing a boy being punished in front of the class, is now available for download.

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Page updated: May 2006