|www.corpun.com : Archive : 2011 : AU Schools Jul 2011|
The Sunday Times, Perth, 9 July 2011
School defends their [sic] use of the cane
By Yasmine Phillips
A WA school, which still uses the cane, has defended the practice, claiming it teaches students right from wrong.
Nollamara Christian Academy is among three independent schools that have corporal punishment, which was banned in the state's public and Catholic schools in 1986.
Mt Helena's Bible Baptist Christian Academy and Bunbury's Grace Christian School are believed to be the other schools.
Despite opposing corporal punishment, Education Minister Liz Constable said she would not stop it. It was up to parents if they wanted to send children to "the very few schools" in WA that still used the cane.
Nollamara Christian Academy Pastor Roger Monasmith said a small paddle "like a ping-pong bat" was used as part of a disciplinary approach for the school's 18 students.
Pastor Monasmith, who has run the school with his wife for almost 29 years, said the cane was never used in anger and every parent had to sign an agreement about corporal punishment before enrolling their child.
He said four or five students had been punished so far this year to ensure they understood they had not only disobeyed school rules, but also God.
"We always give them a warning before we use it and we'll give them one swat (on the behind) and then the next time if they do the same thing, they get two swats," he said.
"We try to help these kids as much as we can because there are two things that are very important for kids to learn responsibility and accountability."
He said students faced being caned for fighting, swearing, being disrespectful to teachers or repeatedly failing to complete their work "four or five days in a row".
His comments came as debate about the use of the cane raged around the country. Child-welfare campaigner Alan Corbett has called for it to be banned, warning that research showed corporal punishment could cause long-term harm.
But Pastor Monasmith said people who wanted the cane to be banned had a misguided view that "if you spank their behinds you will warp their character".
"It won't warp their character at all - unless you do it wrong," he said. "It can only be done with a balance.
"Like I say, if it doesn't work, we try to use a different way ... they will get either some detention or they have to stay in class and finish their work, just different things we try to help them realise that this isn't the right thing to do."
Pastor Monasmith said the school's academic results spoke for themselves. Students were regularly commended by the community for being "kind and polite".
He said every parent must sign an agreement allowing use of the cane. "This is the way we do it," he said. "It sounds like a dictatorship, but it's not. If you don't sign the agreement to give them the cane, then we cannot let them come in."
The Department of Education Services regulates the use of the cane in non-government schools in WA. Such schools must notify parents prior to enrolment and keep records of all corporal punishment administered, a spokesman said.
Opposition education spokesman Ben Wyatt said he believed the cane was "past its use-by-date", but parents should have the choice.
Mt Helena Christian Academy principal Kyran Sharrin did not want to discuss the school's disciplinary methods because "it's a bit too controversial".
Grace Christian School refused to comment.
Copyright 2011 The Sunday Times.
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