Implement clear policy on corporal punishment

-Help and Shelter tells ministry

Help and Shelter says it is dismayed to learn of recent incidents of “physical and psychological abuse” suffered by students at the Enmore Primary School and urges the ministry to implement a clear policy on alternative disciplinary measures.

In a press release the group said the reports, carried in the Stabroek News and Kaieteur News indicate that tolerance of the use of violence at schools is a direct result of not having a policy of zero tolerance for violence. The reports also indicated parents were concerned about the use of violence as a means of discipline at schools.

Help and Shelter said in its submission on the draft Education Bill regarding corporal punishment it noted that the rising levels of violence in the society is indicative of the failure of people to resolve conflicts and anti-social behaviour at every level. Yet the ministry through its prescribed disciplinary measures gives schools the right to use physical violence or the threat of it against children. The charity reiterates the dangers of this policy and calls on the ministry to develop and implement alternative measures.

According to the release the 2002 UNICEF/MOE/Red Thread Survey ‘Voices of Children: Experiences with violence’ reported that corporal punishment is administered more often by teachers in the classroom than by head teachers in accordance with the prescribed procedures. The recent reports would indicate that seven years later violations of the ministry’s rules are still occurring.

In the light of this Help and Shelter said it stands ready to assist with any counselling services the affected students or their families may wish to access. The group is also ready to work with schools and parents to change attitudes about using violence as a means of discipline.

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