corpunWorld Corporal Punishment Research

ruler   :  Archive   :  2006   :  NZ Schools Aug 2006


School CP - August 2006

Corpun file 18223


The New Zealand Herald, Auckland, 23 August 2006

Parents asked to OK school's use of strap

By Claire Trevett

A Christian school in Auckland is seeking parents' permission for staff to strap students despite corporal punishment in schools being illegal.
Documents obtained by the Herald outline Tyndale Park Christian School's "corporal correction" policy.
It acknowledges the Education Act forbids corporal punishment, but quotes the Bible saying "we ought to serve God rather than men".

Parents are given an "authorisation/direction" form which says they are aware corporal punishment at school is banned, but will permit school staff to administer it.
The policy says the strap must be given on the palm after consultation with another staff member, and in the presence of that staff member.
Afterwards the child is to be spoken to or prayed with, or both.

School manager and trust board chairman Jan Brinkman refused to discuss corporal punishment at the school.
"Our enrolment policy is between the parents who enrol children here and ourselves. We are not a state school; we are not bound by a particular enrolment policy."
He would not say how long the policy had been in place, or whether it was optional for parents to sign the form.
"This is between the parents that enrol their children at our school and that is where the buck stops. It's got nothing to do with anyone else except our parents."

Tyndale Park is a private Christian school in Papatoetoe with about 110 students from Years 1 to 13. Fees range from $708 to $1070 a term.

The Education Review Office and the Ministry of Education said last night that they were unaware of the school's policy. Private schools were not obliged to show documentation or policies to government bodies.
Previous review office reports have been unable to comment conclusively on the school's corporal punishment stance, but last year the office said: "The school manager should ensure that parents are clearly informed that the school administers no corporal punishment."

Charlene Scotti, the office's area manager of review services, said some schools had policies to call parents in for cases where corporal punishment was required, but were careful not to include staff in punishing students.

Ministry of Education northern regional manager Bruce Adin said the legality of the Tyndale Park document was unclear, but if school staff strapped a student it would be illegal.

Green MP and anti-smacking advocate Sue Bradford said it was a disgusting policy. "It appears to me the school is deliberately breaking the law."
She has called for the Ministry of Education to launch a full investigation into the school "to ascertain whether any child has been assaulted by staff".

Copyright © 2006, APN Holdings NZ Ltd

blob RELATED VIDEO CLIP (2 minutes 9 seconds) from One News New Zealand, same date (23 August 2006).

School using strapReport by Lisa Owen. The school's confidential consent forms ask parents to approve "corporal correction" with a strap. Green MP Sue Bradford expresses her displeasure, but parents at the school say they are happy with the policy. The school's management refuses to be interviewed, but spokesmen for the Association for Christian Schools and for a youth group give their comments.

The viewer is left confused as to whether the law against corporal punishment does in fact apply to private schools in practice.


IMPORTANT: This video material is TVNZ copyright. This brief excerpt is reproduced under the "fair use" doctrineEXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window for private, non-profit, historical research and education purposes only. It must not be redistributed or republished in any commercial context.

Corpun file 18295

Dominion Post, Wellington, 30 August 2006

Caning not the real abuse

By Joe Bennett

I no longer teach, so I ought to stop banging on about education, but Sue Bradford doesn't teach either and she's been banging on a lot.

What has excited Ms Bradford is corporal punishment, though I prefer to call it kid-walloping. Kid-walloping is in the news because a Christian school wants to do some.

The school has written to parents asking if they mind if their kids get walloped. I don't know whether the parents mind or not, but I do know that Ms Bradford does. She minds terribly.

"I am appalled that any organisation that is tasked with the welfare and education of young people would consider it a desirable discipline option," Ms Bradford says.

The Christian school is not upset by Ms Bradford's opposition. The headmaster said he needs to wallop some kids because he's in the business of exercising God's law. In other words, the headmaster is deluded, dogmatic and potentially dangerous, but the parents at this private school chose to send him their kids, so that's their problem.

I attended a state school where boys were occasionally caned by the headmaster. In my class there was an irritating and pompous child whom I shall call Zucchini. Zucchini had a strange metabolism. If you kneed him in the crotch, his nose bled. It was so amusing that kneeing Zucchini in the crotch became fashionable. In consequence, Zucchini suffered more than even he deserved. I never kneed Zucchini but I remember finding it funny. Only Zucchini dissented, and his vote didn't count.

Somehow the authorities learned of Zucchini's plight. Three of his assailants were summoned to the head's study. They were caned. Now let's return to Ms Bradford's words. She described corporal punishment as assault. Wrong.

Kneeing Zucchini was assault. The caning was something different. Zucchini was not at fault. Zucchini's tormentors were. Zucchini could not have avoided his fate. Zucchini's tormentors could have, simply by avoiding Zucchini.

According to Ms Bradford, the caning that Zucchini's tormentors received was likely to encourage abuse of children. Well, its immediate effect was precisely the opposite. The perpetrators left Zucchini alone.

But perhaps Ms Bradford is thinking longer term. Perhaps she means that the intoxicating delight of caning would soon turn any headmaster trigger-happy, rampaging through the school, brandishing his bamboo much as Ms Bradford brandishes her liberal credentials, and beating children indiscriminately just for being alive. To which all I can say is that our headmaster didn't.

But then again, Ms Bradford may mean that caning would turn us into child-abusers. It didn't. Nor, while I'm at it, did the caning teach its victims violence. They were already experts.

Ms Bradford is appalled at the thought of children being assaulted while ignoring the truth that children regularly assault children. She also ignores the truth that children regularly assault teachers. Yet her attitude implies children are all vulnerable little diddums. The truth has obviously got lost somewhere.

But Ms Bradford does not have a monopoly on being appalled. I am appalled that any child should assault a teacher. I am appalled by a child saying "don't touch me. I know my rights" when that child has shown no respect for the rights of others. I am appalled when a teacher can't teach well-behaved kids because ill-behaved kids won't let her. I am appalled when kids emerge from school unable to read or write after 10 years of expensive education. That's child abuse.

The notion that kids are little balls of innocence who would all grow into loving angels if only we adults didn't warp them, is bizarre, romantic, self-deluding nonsense. It takes only one visit to a kindergarten during playtime to dispel. The idea was formulated by that old dingbat Jean-Jacques Rousseau about 1750 and discredited shortly afterwards. Yet somehow it persists as today's sentimental orthodoxy. It is the same delusion that impels people like Ms Bradford to call pupils students, as if every one of them were a self-motivated scholar. (Though it is interesting to note that when someone is threatening to wallop them, they stop being students and become children again.)

Kid-walloping won't come back into New Zealand schools and it wouldn't make much difference if it did. What would make a difference, however, in the endless debate over education, is a bit of honesty about the nature of children. Oddly enough, they're just like us.

* Joe Bennett's Mustn't Grumble (HarperCollins) and Down Boy (Hazard Press) are both published this week.

blob About this website

blob Country files: Corporal punishment in New Zealand

blob THE ARCHIVE index  Main menu page

Copyright © C. Farrell 2007
Page updated March 2007