Incidents of corporal punishment are on the rise in KwaZulu-Natal schools, prompting the department of education to develop a set of guidelines for educators.

Following a public outcry over what appears to be an upsurge in cases of corporal punishment at schools, the Department of Education has released a protocol on dealing with incidents. 

It serves as a guideline on how schools, districts and provinces should handle these cases.

In the document, the department raises concerns that acts of corporal punishment had continued despite being banned.

“Adults responsible for educating children still attempt to justify the infliction of pain on developing bodies and minds in their care,” reads the document, which was released last week.

The document lists all forms of corporal punishment, which includes acts that range from smacking and kicking someone to forcing children to swallow hot spices.

According to the protocol, all cases of corporal punishment are expected to be reported to the principal of the affected school, unless the perpetrator is the principal, in which case it should be reported to the circuit manager and the district director. 

KwaZulu-Natal Education Department spokesman Kwazi Mthethwa said the province was taking a zero tolerance approach.

He added that there only seemed to be an upsurge in incidents of corporal punishment because “people have confidence in us and are reporting cases".

Allen Thompson, the deputy president of the National Teachers Union, said communities, teachers and civil society should be involved in coming up with non-violent methods of discipline.

Thompson said the department should also do something about attacks by pupils on teachers, saying these had become more prevalent as “teachers were increasingly being portrayed as the enemies of pupils”.