Corporal punishment at school breeds violence
This and violence in schools were the central talking points at a round table discussion on corporal punishment at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Edgewood Campus.
Ndabenhle Mdluli, a principal, said there was a need for a shift towards a focus on child discipline and exploring alternative punishment that does not involve violence.
He had been speaking during his presentation, titled “It is a challenge to rethink our present on the back of our history”, where he said if teachers administer corporal punishment, they produce adults who perpetuate violence. “We have had 20 years to relook at new ways of disciplining children. Parents have two choices here: be caught with their pants down, or relook at new ways of parenting without using violence.”
Mdluli said corporal punishment was an integral part of schooling in the past and it continues to be.
“The only value of corporal punishment is that it takes us deep into becoming a violent society when we should be a caring one. We need to find ways to move constructively forward to create a peaceful society,” he said.
Mdluli said while corporal punishment was done away with two decades ago, the trouble was it was still used in some schools.
“We have accepted violence as a life blood of our society and we often fail to understand children’s rights in their own right. Teachers who administer corporal punishment often make it difficult for parents to protect their children from violence.”
Terrence Poovan, who has been a teacher for 35 years, said some teachers were trained long ago when corporal punishment was the norm - and the only method to administer discipline.
He said parents have a lack of involvement. In some cases, parents called to school to discuss their childre’s behaviour view the teachers as the errant party.
He said the problem was not only corporal punishment but also violence against teachers.
Poovan said research showed that one in four teachers was afraid of violence in schools. It had also found that 25% of teachers in secondary schools face violence and this included having objects thrown at them.
“We have social issues that can change the behaviour of pupils such as divorce, abuse, dysfunctional families, amongst others.”
He said pupils had lost respect for adults and authority figures.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday Allen Thompson, president of the National Teachers’ Union, said the union had prepared a document that looked at alternative methods to corporal punishment. This document would be made publicly available to teachers and the government.
“We have consulted with teachers and pupils in conducting research into alternatives.
“We encourage our members to under no circumstances administer corporal punishment; it is illegal,” he said.