Corporal punishment in schools

Recently a short item in the NZ Herald reported on a survey based on a very leading question regarding the use of corporal punishment in schools.  The headline ran “Bring the cane back in schools” and claimed that 50% of a thousand  people surveyed answered “ Yes”  to the question “Do you think a school should be able to choose to use corporal punishment, if the Board, parents and principal wish to have this as an option for school discipline?”.    An unfortunate link was made between school violence and schools’ inability to use corporal punishment.


How many parents really wish to see their small children strapped as they were in the long distant past? How many parents want to see their adolescents caned?  It’s been 20 years since any corporal punishment in schools was legal in New Zealand and longer since policy prevented young children or girls from being hit by their teachers.  Corporal punishment in schools involved assaults on children that left physical and psychological injuries.  While some recipients were resilient enough not to suffer long term effects from these often unjust punishments, many adults report negatively on the effects of the pain and shame they experienced and few claim that that their behaviour improved because of it.

And it defies logic to suggest that violent acts by school pupils would reduce if they knew they might be caned for attacking another pupil or teacher.  The students who engage in violence will probably have experienced physical and emotional violence themselves – they are likely to be angry youngsters whose rights and needs have not been met from an early age.  Reduction of violence in schools calls for in an increase in the use of positive non-violent parenting and a change in societal attitudes about punishment and violence – not for an increase in the use of violence.