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School CP - May 1987
Corpun file 11865
The Leader-Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, 27 May 1987
Strap to be officially banned Nov. 1
By Zena Olijnyk
Going to the principal's office to get the strap will soon be a dim memory for Regina Board of Education students. Trustees decided Tuesday to ban corporal punishment in public schools starting Nov. 1.
Abolishing corporal punishment is merely a formality since it's rarely used now, trustee John Beke said after the board meeting.
But the move is "symbolic of the need for society to put more energy into developing non-violent means of disciplining children," he said.
"We must hold up ways of dealing with children without resorting to violence," Beke said, adding that studies show children who have been given the strap when they were young often grow up to wield it themselves.
"Violent forms of discipline only teach children to use violence. It teaches them that bigger people can physically control smaller people."
Beke acknowledged a "phase-in" period is needed before the strap is abolished to prepare teachers in using alternative forms of discipline, such as detentions and taking away privileges.
As well, teachers need to be given more training in preventing behavior problems among students before they're sent down to the principal's office.
The new policy would also recognize that there are times when teachers must use force to restrain students who fight or damage property.
Beke and four other trustees (George Baxter, Margaret Fern, John Newton and Lynne Crosbie) voted in favor of abolishing corporal punishment. Board chairman Ray Matheson and trustee Mary Hicks did not.
Hicks said she couldn't support abolishing corporal punishment now because the board "hasn't done its job" outlining the alternatives to parents and teachers.
"I'm wary of abolishing corporal punishment because we haven't really presented teachers and parents with other methods that have been proven to work," she said.
Matheson said most principals and parents are in favor of keeping the strap as a last resort even though it's not used much. (In 1985, the strap was used 75 times in Regina public schools.)
He pointed out the board received 10 letters from principals on the issue, eight supporting the retention of corporal punishment. The board also received 50 letters from parents, 30 of which said corporal punishment should be kept.
Matheson also said the threat of corporal punishment "helps maintain order and discipline in a classroom."
Beke admitted corporal punishment doesn't necessarily harm children if it is administered "out of love and concern." However, there is often the potential for misuse.
"The majority of people who use corporal punishment use it wisely," he said. "However, we must abolish it so we can stop children from being emotionally damaged by the minority of people who abuse the legal right to strap children."
Nick Kozey, principal at Judge Bryant School, said Tuesday he considers the question of banning the strap a "non-issue in that it really just acknowledges a trend that started a long time ago."
Most research suggests non-physical forms of punishment work best, said Kozey, who hasn't strapped a student in 11 years.
However, he noted the board must also provide teachers with the resources to apply the alternatives effectively.
"For example, you need a lot more time to work with a student, and his or her parents, if you don't use the strap," he said.
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