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OCA probing beating in schools

Saturday, July 05, 2014    

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THE Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA) says there has been an increase in reports of students being beaten by teachers, although corporal punishment was banned in 2011.

"... We tend to get a lot of reports about teachers abusing children," said OCA's investigative officer Bridgette Roye. "There is a lot of physical abuse being meted out to students at schools and presently we are investigating one that went viral," Roye told the Jamaica Observer at a parenting forum at Mandela Park in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew this week.

"Aside from the reports from police and the reports that you get from the children's homes the ones from the school seem to out-number those and this suggest that we probably need to be more in the school educating the educators and finding solutions to alleviate the whole problem of hitting," Roye said.

She was, however, unable to give the Observer figures on beating cases reported.

A teacher and guidance counsellor, Roye said she found the whole issue quite troubling as the matter of corporal punishment in school was addressed by the Ministry of Education and schools were advised to refrain from beating students.

"I don't know if persons were waiting to report past incidents but I know that the number we have been getting is very significant and we have reported it to the relevant agencies and are currently pushing for more investigation to bring the problem under control,"

she said.

Meanwhile, Roye reminded teachers that their job is to nurture and to teach and is not to create harm and that they should stop and think about their actions if they find that they are about to verbally or physically harm a child.

"You are leaving a mark that will never be erased, especially when it comes to girls. I can remember every abuse given at school and I remember every teacher who beat me so I want to encourage teachers to treat the children with respect and remember that one day they will be an adult like you and they will remember you," Roye said.

The OCA's investigative officer was one of several panellists who addressed a modest gathering of parents who turned out at the forum which was organised by the National Parenting Support Commission as a part of its effort to improve parenting skills and capacity of the country's caregivers and parents.

Parents were encouraged not to use beating as a means of disciplining their children, but to resort to other ways of enforcing discipline.

"You do not need to hit your child, if you teach your child to receive blows from you, you're teaching your child to receive blows from anyone and that for me is a huge no-no," said Dr Karen Carpenter, child development psychologist.

"... I was never beaten and my three children (the youngest of whom is 22) were never beaten and they are not criminals," she told parents. "You don't have to turn out bad because you don't get beating."

Parents were instead advised to have a relationship with their children and to create a structure of discipline from the infancy stage while teaching them that there are consequences for their actions.

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