Student caned – did school break the law on corporal punishment?

Student caned – did school break the law on corporal punishment?
Share this article on:

The mother of a primary 5 student from Horizon Primary School is reported to be concerned that her son has been caned more severely than she expected.

According to a report by STOMP, the 11-year old student was caned on the thighs by the school’s vice-principal for “misbehaving”. The punishment meted out apparently left the boy with cane marks, “with bruising in the same area as well”, the report said.

“While the boy’s parents were informed about the caning and signed an acknowledgement form from the school, they did not expect how serious the marks would be,” STOMP reported.

The boy’s aunt, speaking to the website, said, “We all thought the caning would be on the buttocks, but it was on my nephew’s thigh. We didn’t expect the scar that he is now left with.

“After the caning, he was unable to sit for a week and had a phobia of returning to school. He even thought of changing schools.”

In response to queries from STOMP, the school reportedly said:

“One of our students was counselled and caned in accordance with the school rules so that he would understand the consequences of his actions.

“We have been working with his family to help the student learn. He has resumed learning actively in school.”

It is unclear what the “school rules” are, but according to the Education (Schools) Regulations Act, corporal punishment (or caning) – which applies only to male students – can only be carried out in a very specific and limited way, namely:

88.— (2) The corporal punishment of boy pupils shall be administered with a light cane on the palms of the hands or on the buttocks over the clothing. No other form of corporal punishment shall be administered to boy pupils.

While caning is allowed by the law, those in authority in schools should be mindful that there are limitations, or restrictions, on how physical punishment on children are to be carried out. Also, it is good to keep in mind that experts have warned “corporal punishment can have a lasting psychological impact on the child.” And if we are not careful, such punishment can also end up as abuse, as was in this case not too long ago.

Perhaps the Ministry of Education should look into this particular case at Horizon Primary School.

Incidentally, according to the Corpun website,

“As of April 2017, about 13% of primary schools, and about 53% of secondary schools (excluding those for girls only), say on their websites that they cane male students.”

Corporal punishment in schools (all over the world) has been a topic of debate for many years. The views on the topic are divided, with some saying that such punishment disciplines children, while others say the consequences could be negative and lasting.

Take part in the debate here, where 36% approve of it, while 64% do not.