PM says corporal punishment legitimises violence

Friday, November 02, 2018

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has reiterated the Government's policy that there should be no corporal punishment in schools as part of the thrust to diffuse the culture of violence in some communities.

“There is an established and enforced policy of no corporal punishment in our early childhood institutions, particularly our infant schools. My stance on that matter is not the conventional thinking. What we have been doing in allowing corporal punishment in our educational institution is to entrench and legitimise the use of unregulated force, violence.

“We have been literally saying to our children, 'A slap is right'. When that child leaves [school], then a kick is right, then a stab is right, then shooting is right. It is utter nonsense to say, 'Well, I get slap and I never turned out that way'; utter rubbish because people who have been stabbed turn out that way, and it only takes one to create the violence and mayhem,” the prime minister said.

He was speaking at the official handover ceremony for the Jamaica/China Goodwill Infant School I and II, in Olympic Gardens, St Andrew, on Wednesday.

Last November Holness said his Administration was committed to not only outlawing corporal punishment in schools, but generally in the society. He said the time had come for Parliament to debate the issue and bring an end to the method of discipline.

He was speaking then against the background of a UNICEF Report, which found that a high number of Jamaican children are subject to violent discipline in their homes, schools and communities.

On Wednesday, Holness said the Government must lead the cultural change by using institutions to set examples for the society.

“The policy of no corporal punishment in these institutions must be followed faithfully. I want to change the thinking because we are trying to influence the society to change its thinking on many issues,” the prime minister stressed.

He pointed out that it is critical to prevent from the outset the entrenchment of antisocial behaviour, particularly violent behaviour.

Holness explained that one of the reasons why the Government was insistent on supporting infant schools is to ensure that the no corporal punishment policy in early childhood institutions is enforced.

In his budget presentation last year, Holness indicated that the Education Act is to be amended to expressly prohibit corporal punishment in schools.

He said alternative systems of discipline and behaviour management must become part of the main systems of discipline in schools.

Holness said that while some administrators might resist the policy of no corporal punishment, this age-old method of discipline is contradictory to the alternative methods provided for under education transformation. He argued that a modern society should not use violence as a means of discipline.

— Alphea Saunders

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