Stop illegal caning
At some South African schools, canings are still the norm. And yes, it is illegal.
(Shawn Benjamin)
‘Voetsek, get away from my desk.’

That’s what a teacher allegedly told a girl whose hand was swelling after a caning. The 11-year-old may lose her fingers, according to an article on The Herald’s website.

It’s the kind of news story that doesn’t cause much of a wobble. After all, there are rogue teachers in many schools who still believe that corporal punishment is the only way. What is shocking is that deputy principal is quoted as saying that as far as he knew, corporal punishment was still permitted but not in excess. And both the child and her mother were surprised to hear that it is illegal.

This is by no means the only school where corporal punishment is still routinely used, confirms Samantha Waterhouse of Rapcan, an organisation aimed at preventing the victimisation of children. This continues despite the fact that the SA Schools Act banned corporal punishment in all forms in 1996.

‘It is completed prohibited in the schools,’ Samantha says. The reasons for it being banned may seem self-explanatory, but for those who might question why it was done, she explains: ‘Children are very vulnerable to abuse and violence in schools. Corporal punishment instils fear in children which undermines the learning process.’

A better system, she says, is one that holds children and adults responsible for their behaviour in the schools.

‘This system of a whole school approach can work very well. What’s alarming is that there are schools where severe violence is still used in the name of discipline.’

Does anyone really think an 11-year-old girl deserves to have her fingers hit with a stick for talking in class? Corporal punishment is illegal, and I, for one, would like to see it rooted out completely.

Do you have an example of a school where non-corporal discipline methods are working?

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