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School CP - November 2005

Corpun file 16955

Jamaica Observer, Kingston, 22 November 2005

Corporal Punishment in schools

Young People Law

By Thalia Maragh


"Yes now, Spanish Town, Mama goin' beat you with the beating stick."

Variations of this popular rhyme have been recited by many children at some point, whether in jest or being the truth, it's indicative of our general acceptance and culture of beating.

Corporal punishment, which is the "infliction of punishment on the body especially by beating", has over the years been one of the ways to discipline children, both at home and at school. On the one hand, while some of us may have received the occasional 'licks' during our childhood, there are children who are beaten under the guise of punishment, which, in fact, amounts to abuse.

The continued imposition of corporal punishment in homes and schools may very well be a legacy of our colonial past.

Historically, flogging in the home, school and armed forced was common practice in England. Indeed, the idea that no schoolboy could be said to have been properly trained without having been caned on the buttocks, was once an Article of Faith in England.


Caning in Secondary High

The matter of the caning of secondary school students appears, however, to be unsettled. The Education Act and the Regulations to this Act make no provision for the imposition of corporal punishment, nor does it offer any protection to the student upon whom this punishment, has been, or is being administered. In fact, there is no local Act or Regulation that addresses the imposition of corporal punishment in secondary schools.

This state of affairs is to be contrasted with early childhood institutions. There is a clear statement of the law relative to children under the age of 6 years old attending early childhood institutions; which include day care centres and basic schools. The Early Childhood Act came into force in February of this year, and in Section 16 (1) specifically prohibits corporal punishment in these institutions.


Thalia Maragh is an Attorney at law, Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights, 131 Tower Street, Kingston

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