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Ban corporal punishment

Published:Tuesday | January 25, 2011 | 12:00 AM


I strongly support Education Minister Andrew Holness' call for the banning of corporal punishment in schools across Jamaica. This legal and inexcusable act of cruelty to correct the undesirable behaviour of students has no place in the education of children and it violates their human rights.

According to Benson (1937), "In 1935, there were 350 whippings in Jamaica by order of the courts, all but one of which were for juveniles." This cultural practice gradually became customary and socially accepted within families and in educational institutions. Corporal punishment in schools is lawful in Jamaica. The Education Act states that "teachers may administer reasonable corporal punishment", hence, the recent deadly assault on a fifth-grade student, who lost most of the sight in his left eye when a teacher allegedly hit him in southeast St Andrew a week ago. Clearly, this is an act of barbarism.

Infliction of pain

Corporal punishment is believed to involve the infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining as a method of changing behaviour, such as, hitting, punching, kicking, pinching, or use of various objects (paddles, belts, sticks, or others). The method is considered to be violent and unnecessary.

The current provision within the Education Act that permits the administering of corporal punishment by teachers violates the human rights of a child under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1991), which ensures children are safeguarded against all forms of abuse and exploitation, as well as the Child Care and Protection Act (2004), which speaks to the rights of children to be free from corporal punishment in places of safety.

The practice should be immediately banned and sanctions imposed on those who commit such violation. In fact, the Government of Jamaica should be held accountable for permitting such brutality.

I am, etc.,