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School CP - March 2008

Corpun file 20062

Jamaica Gleaner, Kingston, 1 March 2008

Caning: Six of the best

Hartley Neita

By Hartley Neita

I was caned by the headmaster of Jamaica College on my last day at the school.

I was one of 80 boarders. Some of the boys had entered the apartment of one of the masters the previous night and ransacked it. They threw his mattress through the window, turned over the bed, pulled out the drawers of his dresser and threw everything in them away, tied the sleeves and pants of all his silk pajamas and soaked them in water, threw dirt in his shoes and bedside slippers and threw away his soaps, toothbrush and toothpaste. He was not liked.

Next morning at chapel service, the headmaster, who was also not liked, called on the boys who had destroyed the master's belongings to confess they did it. No one confessed.

He then announced that he would be caning every single boy. Any boarder who would be returning the following term and who did not take the caning would be gated for the entire term. They would not be allowed to go to champs, even those on the team. They would not be allowed to go to the swimming championships, even those on the team. They would not be allowed to go to the movies or to Hope Gardens or to any outside pleasures they wished to enjoy.

Those boys who would not be returning to the school would be required to take the caning or they would not be given their school-leaving certificates. That meant if they were going to a university, they would not be accepted, they could not enter the civil service, and there were many job opportunities which would be denied them.

All day, boys were going to the headmaster's study for the 'six of the best'.

Now, I was quarantined in the school infirmary where I was suffering from a bout with measles, so I thought I was not included in the punishment. Until his secretary came and instructed the nurse, Ms Spence, to send me to his study.

Ms Spence was very angry. She breezed to his office and told him I could not have been involved as I was under her care. In fact, I was still having a fever. He, however, was not to be deterred and insisted she should send me to him. I changed from my pajamas into my school uniform but did not have time to borrow an extra bath suit or two to wear under my pants.

Despite my protest, he ordered me to bend over his desk, tested the suppleness of his cane, and proceeded to administer the six.

Of course, I was angry. I knew, however, that I could not go home and tell my father that I could not get my school-leaving certificate. This was my passport to a future and his dreams for me would be dashed.

Let us fast-forward in time to the present. A student in my position today would cut the tyres of the headmaster's car. He would also pull a knife or ice pick from his pocket and threaten to stab the headmaster. He would then be joined by his fellow students in a demonstration with placards describing the headmaster as a bully, claiming that students at the school did not have human rights and calling for justice. Later, the parents would be joining the students. Mothers would be blocking the road in front of the school, bawling and threatening to box the "headmaster-bwoy".

During the holidays, the teachers would resign one by one. They would apply for teaching posts in England, the United States and Canada. Sadly, those who are successful would find that knives and ice picks have been replaced by M16s.


Corpun file 20130

Jamaica Gleaner, Kingston, 26 March 2008

Corporal punishment not a form of violence - students


Most students do not believe corporal punishment is a form of violence, a survey in schools by local gender experts highlights.

The survey was conducted and published in 2005 by the University of the West Indies' Centre for Gender Development Studies. Those surveyed were drawn from a mixture of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. The findings showed that most students thought the disciplining of children (by physical means) was beneficial to children and could only be considered as violence based on the level of severity and how it was administered.

"One participant was adamant that beating is not violence as a form of punishment when the child does something wrong. In a few instances, however, there was a sentiment that parents, as well as other adults and teachers, tend to abuse their position," read the report, which was centred on the perception of gender-based violence in schools.

Many seem to think violence is an integral part of the society and can only be stopped by divine intervention. It can be tolerated, the findings highlighted, particularly in cases where it is beneficial - as in the case of disciplining children - or where it was thought to protect societal norms.


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