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School CP - May 2017

Corpun file 26568 at, 8 May 2017

To Flog or Not To Flog: Expert Says Corporal Punishment Has Its Place

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- A Barbadian criminologist is not in favour of a suggested ban on corporal punishment in schools.

Director of the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit, Cheryl Willoughby told the online media house Barbados TODAY that flogging should not be ruled out as a form of discipline, challenging opponents who claimed it has failed to work.

Her comments came against the backdrop of an incident at a public secondary school involving a 15-year-old male student who allegedly smashed the window of a teacher's car with a rock. Willoughby did not advocate the use of corporal punishment in that case in particular, but stressed that appropriate discipline should be administered according to the circumstances.

"You have to discipline according to the particular child and the particular incident. I know there is this big debate now about whether we should flog or not . . . but you may flog one child and it may work, but it doesn't work for another child," she contended.

The expert however cautioned authorities not to rush to abandon the practice to keep up with steps in developed countries without analyzing other options.

"We continuously stress that we should seek alternatives to flogging, but I am yet to hear what those alternatives are. I have seen from my own research as a criminologist that some of the jurisdictions that have prohibited flogging, crime among young people has escalated on an annual basis. So we cannot take our model from jurisdictions that have failed as a country; we have to develop our own value system," Willoughby stressed.

Education Minister Ronald Jones has already publicly declared the practice as "abuse", suggesting that those who flog children should be thrown in jail.

His position has, however, drawn concern from the Barbados Secondary Teachers' Union President Mary Redman who maintained that violence in schools remains a major problem and the ministry's approach to discipline had failed.

"I believe that a regulated and judicious application of corporal punishment works and corporal punishment does not equate to abuse. There is a difference between the two things. I am not talking about corporal punishment for school work, because I do not support that. But there are certain types of infractions of school rules that, to my mind, the judicious and regulated use of this form of punishment can work," the educator said.

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