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Education Bill undermines just punishment of students

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Editor: An Education Bill that breeds ideas of injustice in the minds of our children, limits the “legal” tools teachers need to instill discipline and undermines the effectiveness of corporal punishment deserves no place in the law books of this country and will better be treated as garbage.

Punishment produces three primary effects: deterrence, satisfactory justice and retribution. If these are not properly satisfied, then how effective will we expect the punishment of a child to be?{{more}}

Division 5 of the proposed Bill, “Discipline, Suspension and Expulsion of students” has several things that make it unjust to both teachers and students alike.

Section 53(2b) indicates that corporal punishment should only be administered “in the principal’s office or other private room in the school.”

So imagine this situation: A child named John comes to class in the morning with a spray in his bag that causes temporary eye irritation.

John, while I am conducting my mathematics lesson, conspicuously draws out the small can and as I turn my back sprays the substance in the faces of three girls and two boys causing redness in the eyes. The girls get scared and the boys-mad.

How does removing John from the classroom and taking him to a private room to be punished effectively instill deterrence to other students? How does this give judicial satisfaction to the other students that he is paying for his wrong? How does it help the mind of the perpetuator, knowing that he can do it again and no one will see him being punished at all?

When he walks out of that room with a smile on his face as though not punished, what would we expect but a more defiant little criminal?

What if two students kicked and cuffed another student causing a bleeding mouth and the parent of one of the two students had written to the principal demanding that no corporal punishment be administered to her?

What can we make of this in light of the proposed Education Bill Sec 53(7)? It means that one boy will be beaten and the other not. But are not both boys equally responsible for the wrong? What would be the principle planted in the punished boy’s mind and the mind of the victim. One thing we know for sure is that the victim will leave school that day dissatisfied that only one of the boys was beaten and a sense of injustice being done by the Principal will be supreme in his mind.

Furthermore, the proposed Bill forbids me, if I am the teacher of the class where my little female cousin or my sister is a student, from hitting this child if she does an outrageous wrong against another student in the classroom. First, because I am a male and she a female, I cannot take personal interest in this child’s discipline in this way. And second, the victim of this outrageous act will not be mentally satisfied that I have served justice and will quickly link my relation to the child with my non-administering of corporal punishment to this child.

The class will watch carefully at the unfairness when I withdraw a male student from the class and beat him (if I also happened to be the deputy head ) on his commission of a wrong act. I will be charged $2,000 on summary conviction according to Sec 53(6) of the proposed bill for administering corporal punishment to my female cousin or little sister. This is another of the outrage and injustice that this Education Bill breeds.

What is the intent of the drafters of this section of the proposed Bill? What kind of society are they trying to reflect through this nonsense? Are they for real? Do they not read the newspapers, do they not see the type of students we now have in our classrooms? What really is the agenda here? What good is in destroying the deterring effect of corporal punishment, breeding a sense of injustice in the minds of students and parents and making the young criminal minds more comfortable with their wrong? This is an example of a bill that should never be written nor passed in this country. The “rod and reproof” is to give wisdom (Prov 29:15), not injustice and foolishness to the minds of our children.

Shefflorn Ballantyne

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