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School CP - March 1997

Maclean's, 10 March 1997

Education Notes

Spare the rod, spoil the child?

The paddle and the strap were once as common in Canadian classrooms as chalk and blackboards. But now, Saskatchewan is poised to become the seventh province -- following British Columbia, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces -- to ban corporal punishment at school.

Roughly half of Saskatchewan's 118 school boards already prohibit the use of force on students, but some educators insist it remains an effective way to keep order.

"We use it when necessary," says Lou Brunelle, principal of the private Christian Centre Academy in Saskatoon. "The child is given three swats on the bum with a witness present."

One vocal critic of corporal punishment is Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs. Last month, her private bill to repeal a section of the Criminal Code stating that "every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil," was given second reading in the Senate. Carstairs acknowledges her bill has little hope of becoming law, in part because many teachers feel it is sometimes necessary to intervene physically in disputes between students.

Still, Carstairs remains adamant. "Corporal punishment," says Carstairs, "normalizes violence as a way of resolving conflict."

Copyright 1997 Maclean Hunter Publishing Limited

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