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School CP - February 2008

Corpun file 20028


Sunshine Coast Daily, Maroochydore, Queensland, 2 February 2008

'Bring back cane' to curb violence

By Kathy Sundstrom

Bringing back the cane is one suggestion to curb Sunshine Coast violence that emerged out of a meeting with police and council chiefs yesterday.

Parliamentary Secretary Chris Bombolas will take the idea back to Premier Anna Bligh and Police Minister Judy Spence.

The suggestion was sparked in a meeting co-ordinated by Maroochy mayor Joe Natoli with Mr Bombolas and police commissioner Bob Atkinson as well representatives from all Sunshine Coast councils yesterday.

And it's an idea Mr Bombolas admits has merits.

"There can be a problem with abuse of power. But it worked for me in my day and it could work today," Mr Bombolas said

"I will go back to the minister and the premier with it as it was a suggestion that came up.

"We need to bring back the respect and responsibilities we used to have."

While Mr Atkinson said he was too busy to weigh into matters that would concern the education minister, he said lack of responsibility amongst youth was a problem in society.

"No one would dispute that in our society in recent times there has been an advancement in the awareness of people's rights, but probably there hasn't been the same accompanying sense of responsibility in some people,' he said.

"But this still is only a small percentage of young people."

Mr Natoli -- who also believed the cane worked in his day -- co-ordinated the meeting to address concerns after the shocking behaviour of youth on Australia Day and to find solutions to the problems with alcohol and drug abuse.

The importance of establishing a "liquor accord" on the Sunshine Coast to get liquor licensed venues to help work together towards a solution for alcohol abuse and loutish behaviour was mooted as a key solution.

But the lack of respect shown by youths and the "anti-social undercurrent in society" was a pervasive problem that Caloundra councillor Tim Dwyer said was getting worse.

"There is a culture of anti-social behaviour and lack of respect in Caloundra that goes under the radar (of Queensland Police). Crime might not be high, but this anti-social culture is growing," Mr Dwyer said

"Shane Hepburn -- the friend of Josh Mill (who was killed in a street clash last year) said youth today were calling out for people to set boundaries for them."

Mr Dwyer said youth were having there "rights spelt out clearly for them by the bleeding heart brigade" and he remembered the days when a "police copper would give them a beat up the bum".

"But times have changed and rights haven't been put together with responsibility."

He said "getting rid of corporal punishment in schools" might have contributed to the problem as "sitting in corner in school doesn't' do much good".

Sunshine Coast police superintendent Ben Hanbidge also agreed that "cuts did it for me".

Mr Bombolas lack of respect was "systemic through society" but he remember the day when he "feared the ramifications of his father".

Mr Atkinson -- who spent 12 years with the Sunshine Coast police service -- said he would review the number of police on the Sunshine Coast, particularly during the holiday periods, even though numbers had grown every year.

He would remain as an "interested stakeholder" in the level of education and information services available on the Sunshine Coast.

Supt Hanbidge said public awareness needed to be created of the "booze culture up here".

"When I walked around on Australia Day of the 3,000 people, at least 2,900 of them had stubbies in their hand.

"This is seen as the holiday atmosphere but we need to be proactive to let people know it is an offence to consume liquor in a public place.

Noosa Deputy Mayor Frank Pardon also asked Mr Bombolas to ask the state government to reconsider funding for community programs such as the extremely successful "life education program" operated in schools.

Mr Dwyer suggested the state government used revenue raised from speed cameras to help fund community programs.

Mr Bombolas said he would also pass this message on, although "we have many requests for the revenue from speed cameras".

Corpun file 20023

Gold Coast Bulletin, Queensland, 16 February 2008


Sad lesson: A slap for authority

THE end result of a case brought against a Mount Tamborine teacher who slapped a student is that the decline in the number of male teachers in our schools surely will continue.

Even though the teacher was cleared of assault charges, the message of the case is clear enough; any teacher (likely to be male) who reacts physically to poor behaviour is liable to be charged.

As proved by the court ruling, the criminal code phrase 'such force as is reasonable under the circumstances to discipline or control a child' was enough to clear the teacher.

But schools, already nervous about lawsuits against their teachers, usually have a code of behaviour of their own. Teachers are expected to avoid touching students at all.

Corporal punishment, for all its pitfalls, once was an integral part of school life.

While plenty of children were caned, it was the fear of the cane, rather than the cane itself, that helped school staff control unruly elements. Caning was crude but effective, especially for teenaged boys for whom reasoned counselling meant nothing and offered no solutions. But corporal punishment was phased out, and with it went the last line of defence against boys and girls who, from a teacher's perspective, were uncontrollable.

The modern increase in the level of disruption in classrooms by unruly students happens to coincide with the drop in reading and maths skills in the past 40 years. Today's 14-year-olds are, in learning terms, three months behind their counterparts in the 1960s.

The landscape of teaching has changed dramatically in that time, with the proportion of male teachers dropping dramatically and male role models therefore disappearing.

Was the abolition of the cane really such a good idea?

Gold Coast Publications Pty Ltd Copyright July 2007

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