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School CP - December 2007

Corpun file 19861


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 3 December 2007


Caning does more harm than good

The Women's Centre for Change Penang (WCC) notes with great concern the recent proposal to extend caning as a method to handle discipline problems involving schoolgirls. WCC cautions against the use of the cane on children be they boys or girls.

The caning of a child is in direct contravention of the Convention on the Rights of The Child (CRC), of which Malaysia is a signatory.

[NOTE BY C.F.: This is factually incorrect. The Convention does not mention the words "caning" or "corporal punishment", or anything similar. It refers to protecting children from "physical and mental violence", and I have yet to find any evidence that the framers of the Convention intended this phrase to include ordinary corporal punishment such as a moderate caning or spanking that causes no injury.]

Caning may not be the most effective way to deal with problems of indiscipline. While it may bring about the immediate compliance of the child, the issues of physical harm as well as emotional damage to the child need to be taken into consideration. Corporal punishment can lead to increased antisocial behaviour, aggression and chronic defiance.

The use of the cane can be abused especially when frustrations are vented.

The social consequence of caning is that it sends a clear message that violence is an acceptable form of behaviour in society i.e., it is all right to use violence and inflict pain to teach a child something. This goes against all efforts to reduce the level of violence in our society.

Caning may seem to be a quick fix solution to misbehaviour but it fails to address the root causes of the problem i.e., an inability to fit into a rigid, exam orientated education system, poverty related issues, the need to challenge boundaries, insufficient guidance from the home, dysfunctional family situations, negative influences from the neighborhood environment and so on.

WCC would therefore urge the Ministry of Education to:

·Work with other agencies and community groups for example those dealing with the health, welfare and rights of the child, so as to provide support where needed, to both students and school authorities;

·Consult with experts in the field to work out alternative forms of discipline which include behaviour modification programmes that help enhance positive behaviour of students;

·Support school teachers by reducing the number of students per class, having teaching assistants, providing skills training on class control and handling difficult students, having access to highly trained counselors and child psychologists; and

·Have a more balanced education system which moves away from an over emphasis on exams towards a more holistic education which cultivates the child's other potentials.

Prema E. Devaraj, 
Program Director, 
Women's Centre for Change, 

© 1995-2005 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 19857


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 3 December 2007


Using the rod does discipline children

THE "Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child" issue has been the talk of the town for the past few months.

I'm appalled that many people who are not in the school discipline paradigm have been giving many inaccurate statements pertaining to school discipline.

After being a discipline teacher in schools (both primary and secondary) for almost two decades, my colleagues and I strongly believe and have successfully curbed indiscipline problems in schools using the cane.

Schoolchildren are not adults to be subjected to psychological methodology to curb indiscipline problems. And I have found it to be inapplicable (to a certain extent) to impose psychological theories on them.

Hypothetically and psychologically children are afraid of the cane and therefore caning should go on in schools as the "toothless" discipline teachers have no other avenue other than caning to curb indiscipline problems in schools.

Caning, if executed by the book of rules and regulations, is still the best method to discipline school children regardless of gender.

The recent national conference on school discipline problems, has endorsed caning for girls.

I fully support such a move, as there are many indiscipline problems among girls in schools, such as smoking, playing truant, smooching, bullying and stealing.

If there is a claim from women groups that women are of the weaker sex and therefore they should be treated more gently, then I'm sure there are avenues for such caning to be rectified and modified to suit them.

The public and the proponents of psychological methodology, have to understand that caning is not a first choice punishment in schools.

It is only implemented when other options like warning and counselling fail.

Petaling Jaya.

© 1995-2005 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 19860


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 4 December 2007


Discipline teachers have no choice

I REFER to "Caning does more harm than good" and "Using the rod does discipline children" (The Star, Dec 3).

As a discipline teacher in a primary school, I say some parents have failed in their duty to discipline their children at home. That leaves us no choice but to do their job of disciplining their children.

It is the same child that steals and extorts money from his friends, that plays truant throughout the year and his parents cannot do anything about it.

That leaves us discipline teachers with no choice.

Caning is done after all other alternatives fail. It's not like we hit them as many times as we like to vent our anger.

There are procedures to follow. One stroke of the rotan, that's what I do. I explain to the child why he is being caned. It works to curb the problem immediately.

We as teachers need to settle the discipline problem immediately because it affects other students, too.

If you fight for the right of the child that gives the discipline problem, what about those children in the classroom who see these trouble-maker classmates and schoolmates of theirs every day?

All suggestions by Women's Centre for Change are good but how long will it take to implement them? What about all the red tape along the way? What do we do in the meantime?

Believe me when I say that you will never believe the kind of disciplinary problems we face in the primary school these days. I pity the secondary school discipline teachers.

Teluk Intan, Perak.

© 1995-2005 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 19856


The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 4 December 2007


Caning of schoolgirls is nothing new

By V.K. Chin

V.K. ChinTHE Education Ministry and those favouring or opposing the introduction of caning to discipline schoolgirls must be behind time. They give the impression that this is something new.

In fact, caning of girls has been practised for decades in Chinese-medium primary schools and is still going on, with or without permission from the education department.

It may be something new in national schools, but certainly not to Chinese parents with children in national-type ones. In Chinese-medium schools, caning would start on the first day of Standard One.

Parents may not like their princesses being caned but they accept it as part of the learning and disciplinary process. Of course this would be done in the classroom and on pupils of both sexes, especially in the first week of school.

This is one way for teachers to impose their authority, and the cane would be used for the slightest excuse.

Once pupils get the message, they tend to behave.

But caning is carried out as a punishment for indiscipline and not doing their homework. This is definitely an abuse of authority since the punishment must fit the crime.

Parents are likely to keep quiet unless the physical punishment is too drastic and leaves marks or causes injury.

Otherwise, keeping quiet is the norm and few parents would dare to confront the teacher.

Such punishment is naturally a traumatic experience for a seven-year-old girl who may have been so pampered at home that being caned or slapped by anyone would be a shock.

Some of them have developed a phobia and would become hysterical should they forget to bring a book.

They would call home and their mother would have to rush to school with the book to calm down the child.

There is a culture of fear existing in such Chinese-medium schools that have been going on for far too long.

The teacher's excuse is that with as many as 50 pupils in each class, it would be difficult to enforce discipline without caning.

While there may be a case for the cane to deal with secondary school girls, for some of them can be quite wild, imposing the same punishment on primary ones for minor mistakes should be discouraged.

It is time the education department's Chinese schools section persuade primary head teachers that such force should not be used on young children.

There is little doubt that at the primary level, all girls would have been caned at least once. This has definitely left a scar on them but, strangely, parents who are quite vocal on other issues are prepared to accept this practice.

The department must issue new guidelines, and the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry should give its input to deal with this problem.

© 1995-2005 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)

Corpun file 19882


New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 7 December 2007

Caning in school should be last resort

By Dr Alvin Ng Lai Oon, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

I AM writing in response to Mahendran Maniam's letter "By-the-book caning the best method"(NST, Dec 4). Firstly, I would like to apologise to Mahendran and whoever else offended by my purported remarks on teachers who use the cane.

I was reported as saying that teachers who cane students do it for their own benefit instead of the students.

What I said to the reporter who interviewed me by telephone was that I know of some teachers who were tyrants who also punished children to please themselves, leading to the students being traumatised and afraid of going to school.

I did not imply that all teachers are like that. In my profession, we do not simply make sweeping statements.

With regard to Mahendran's statement that psychological theories cannot be applied in school because caning is the best method, I must say that punishment is actually a psychological method that comes under the Operant Conditioning Theory of Learning.

I acknowledge that while caning has been shown to work on some students, it does not work for all.

I also agree with Mahendran that caning should be left as a last resort, after warnings and reprimands.

Nevertheless, caning should not be a major focus as it gives a negative view of schools in the eyes of students.

What I would like to point out is that psychological theories behind behaviour management are very much applicable in school, and are already frequently used by teachers effectively.

Punishment is a very efficient method used to reduce bad behaviour but does not necessarily increase good behaviour.

However, punishment also comes with side effects of anger, resentment and fear. Therefore, when we punish children, we need to be prepared for the potential side effects.

In order to increase good behaviour, we need to encourage good behaviour by reinforcing it with pleasant outcomes.

Instead of focusing so much on bad behaviour, we need to focus on good behaviour and encourage it.

In order to minimise negative side effects of punishment, it is best if we also minimise punishment but maximise encouragement of good behaviour.

The benefit of focusing on positive behaviour is that schools can be places that are more associated with positive reinforcement rather than caning or punishment.

This increases the likelihood of children being more encouraged to go to school.

As a clinical psychologist and a lecturer in psychology, I know well the efficacy of applied psychological methods in managing behaviour. When applied properly, behavioural management strategies do work very well.

© Copyright 2007 The New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad. All rights reserved.

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