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School CP - May 2001

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Daily Nation, Nairobi, 26 May 2001


Remove such brutes from school system

Corporal punishment has been practised by all societies. That is probably the reason many Kenyans have misgivings about its recent outlawing at school. They cite the old English saying that to spare the rod is to spoil the child.

Yet one thing is clear. Both in traditional and in post-colonial Kenya, until the recent ban, chastisement had much system. Most parents and teachers knew just what amount of pain to inflict to straighten a recalcitrant child.

They knew from precept that you did not hit a child with anything likely to cause too much harm, leave alone to kill. They knew exactly what part of the body to target because that part is nowhere near an organ whose injury is likely to prove fatal.

That's why most parents and teachers restricted themselves to the buttocks, fleshy enough to lead to a great deal of pain when struck, but far from any vital organ. Yet all this now seems pointless. For what it is worth, the law has proscribed corporal punishment at school.

Thus what some teachers are still doing by caning students is often doubly illegitimate. It goes against the letter of the new law. And it tramples underfoot the traditional spirit of the law which stipulated that punishment aims to straighten a child, not to maim or kill him.

We, in the newspapers, still publish heartrending reports that a child has perished here or there as a result of misguided enthusiasm by a teacher. Some still use such objects as metal bars and employ undue force to hit such parts of the body as the head and the chest.

Even when they restrict themselves to the buttocks, they beat with a vengeance. They hammer so hard and so many times that a child may die from profuse bleeding. A teacher who behaves like this is not punishing but murdering.

A person of his cruelty has no place in a school. For a school's duty is to guide gently, resorting to the rod only when absolutely necessary, but doing so judiciously and humanely. So, since cases are beginning to spiral, why isn't the Government bringing to book these breakers of both the law and the rules of humanity?

Copyright Nation Newspapers Limited

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