Letter: Corporal Punishment and School Discipline

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Dear Editor,
There has been a lot said about the state of school violence and what could be done to curb or prevent it from occurring. While the debate surrounds the upbringing and fostering of the child in their developmental years, not much focus is placed on what might be used to condition the child to want to stop resorting to violence in the first place.

The conversation on disciplining children in schools usually reverts to the argument about whether corporal punishment should be reevaluated and reinstated as a form of punishment and deterrent. That said, the reason that this line of thinking is often discouraged is merely because when people mention corporal punishment it usually triggers old memories of getting licks in school that no one wants to revisit. Moreover, these events are so traumatic across generations of parents that the thought of revisiting this dark punishment upon the youth of today and the future is too much for some to bear.


It’s true that in the past, corporal punishment was often abused by teachers who might have used it to inflict unfair and unimaginable torture on those young children placed in their care. But armed with that knowledge we can update the system to be more judicious while remaining as effective as it had been in the past.

As such, I would like to propose that should corporal punishment return to school, a system should be put in place to ensure that any discipline being sanctioned should be impartial and objective to fit any offence that was committed. This is not dissimilar to how courts eventually replaced the system of frontier justice that was prevalent in societies that didn’t adhere to the norms of civility.

Just as the criminal justice system was used to impartially punish those who break the laws of a nation, a modern corporal punishment system could be used to effect the same type of authority within the school system. This would mean that instead of a teacher immediately, taking the responsibility to punish a child based on their own emotions and biases, a committee could be set up within each school to deliberate on accusations of wrongdoing and determine what punishment, if any, would be the most equitable.

This system would not relinquish responsibility from the teachers in issuing any punishment, but it would also insulate the school administration from any assumption of bias or prejudice against a child.


But more than that, a system such as this would not only discourage the level of violence we are witnessing among students in our schools, but it would also give them a greater understanding of how the judicial system might operate when they graduate. This type of life lesson therefore would not only have the immediate remedy of preventing school violence from taking place currently but might also serve to discourage similar types of violence and crime once the student leaves the school.

While no one would advocate for child abuse to become accepted in society, the level of violence children are inflicting upon one another has become too extreme for us to ignore and not take affirmative action. That being the case, to return to the senseless and brutal beatings of the past simply is not the best depiction of how much we have developed as a nation. A statutory system that allows the students to defend themselves in an arbitration proceeding might be the best way to ensure that decorum and compliance are returned to our schools.

Kavita Chotak.
BSc Criminology and Criminal Justice



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