Corpun file 12216
Edmonton Journal, 23 October 2003
Giving students the strap archaic method of discipline
We are writing to express our concern that there are still school districts in this province which have yet to remove corporal punishment from their books. Our eight-year-old son was recently peripherally involved in an incident which resulted in him being threatened with the strap.
The fact that corporal punishment has been banned in eight provinces in Canada and by 26 out of the 65 school boards in Alberta speaks for itself. It is an archaic, ineffective and violent way to discipline children. Yet 39 school boards in Alberta, including the Black Gold board, in their collective wisdom, do not find it necessary to remove corporal punishment.
We believe it was Isaac Asimov who proclaimed that "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."
Is it not the goal of the Alberta Teachers' Association's Safe and Caring Schools project to "encourage school practices that model and reinforce socially responsible and respectful behaviours, so that learning and teaching can take place in a safe and caring environment"?
Do schools think that the threat of physical punishment builds moral character or engenders respect for the wielder of the strap? Do they think that the threat of physical punishment teaches children to effectively solve problems? Do they think that threatening a child with being hit is educational?
Ken and Renee Kshyk,
© Copyright 2003 Edmonton Journal
Corpun file 12215
Edmonton Journal, 24 October 2003
Mom upset child was threatened with strap
School boards in Alberta can set own punishment policy
By Jodie Sinnema
The Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - The angry mother of an eight-year-old boy plans to challenge a local school board policy that allows teachers to use the strap to punish students.
Renee Kshyk said she was shocked to hear last week that her son had been hauled into the Warburg school office that day and threatened with the strap for his part in a fight involving five boys.
"I had thought that it wasn't allowed in school," said Kshyk, who lives in Warburg, a village 70 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, and is part of the Black Gold school division.
Edmonton's public and Catholic school boards banned corporal punishment in 1990. Alberta's school act allows boards to set their own policies on the issue.
Kshyk said her son's teacher pulled the strap out of a drawer and tapped it on the edge of a desk as he was speaking with her son, Cody, and two other boys.
"I'm extremely upset," said Kshyk, who later saw the strap during a follow-up meeting with school administrators. It was a black belt, she said, about 45 centimetres long and five centimetres wide.
"Under no circumstances will they be giving my child a strap. It is archaic and violent."
Kshyk said her son had never been in trouble before last Friday, when he pushed another student to the ground.
"He was visibly shaken (after his visit to the office)," she said, noting the teacher involved has since told her he didn't intend for Cody to be so frightened.
"He was on the verge of being physically ill all weekend, especially Sunday evening before going back to school."
Kshyk said nothing constructive came out of the incident.
"It scared him and I don't think that is an acceptable way to educate children," she said. "You don't scare them into behaviour. You help them understand the reason for their behaviour."
Wayne Martel, principal at Warburg school for two years, said the strap has never been used under his leadership.
"In discipline, you need a number of options, but I've never gone down the road in having to use that one," said Martel, who knows of only two times the strap has been wielded as a warning.
"I would have to find out if it is effective and I don't know (if it is)."
Greg Stewart, deputy superintendent with Black Gold schools, said the strap is rarely, if ever, used.
"Many, many things have to take place before something like the strap is used," such as student counselling, Stewart said. "It's one tool that we have. I don't believe we are into intimidation. I think it's used as a corrective measure.
"There are folks out there who believe it may be an appropriate form of punishment. They are part of our community as well."
Some parents have even requested the strap be used on their children, he said.
Stewart said school trustees will likely re-examine the board's corporal punishment policy. The policy was last reviewed in April.
"The board would like to be responsive to what the norms in the community are," Stewart said.
Earlier this month, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child called on Canada to remove Section 43 from the Criminal Code, a provision that allows a legal defense for using corporal punishment on a child.
At least eight provinces and territories have amended their education acts to ban corporal punishment.
Jim Bateman, a psychologist who works with children and youth, said it's time Alberta did the same.
"I think it is an abuse of power," he said.
BLACK GOLD SCHOOL DIVISION'S POLICY ON CORPORAL PUNISHMENT SAYS:
- the principal should always be informed;
- the student must be given a chance to tell his/her story;
- the strap must be done in private, preferably by the teacher who made the request, with one other as witness;
- the strap should be administered to the hand;
- parents must be contacted afterwards;
- a written record must be filed to the principal and must include the nature of offence, number of strokes and which hand.
IN A SURVEY OF ALBERTA SCHOOL BOARDS IN 2000:
- 16 boards still allowed corporal punishment in their schools;
- one had no policy, but had an understanding that corporal punishment would not be used;
- seven boards had no policy on the issue
- 35 boards had banned corporal punishment.
Source: Alberta Learning
© Copyright 2003 Edmonton Journal