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School CP - January 1995

Corpun file 6798

The Dominion, Wellington, 19 January 1995

School defends use of paddle for discipline

By Helen Bain

EXPULSIONS and suspensions had increased because schools could not use corporal punishment, Jireh Christian School board of trustees chairman John Wilson said.

The Island Bay school was criticised by the Education Review Office this month for using a wooden paddle to discipline children.

Mr Wilson said the school used corporal punishment only when all else had failed in cases of particularly bad behaviour, such as bullying or repeated rebellion against a teacher's authority.

"Our policy is to administer the paddle in a humane, loving and caring way on very rare occasions."

He said the number of suspensions and expulsions from schools had risen in the past few years because the law had "removed corporal punishment from the repertoire of discipline available".

In many cases suspension would be "playing into a child's hands -- they think it's Christmas when they don't have to go to school".

"It is not helping them at all to become a responsible and worthy citizen."

He said while corporal punishment was currently unpopular, parents would return to supporting older values, including the use of corporal punishment, and move away from a looser approach to childcare.

Jireh had never suspended or expelled a pupil and worked as "a happy family".

It never used corporal punishment as "a random violent response", because it was used under strict guidelines, parents were called in to carry it out, a witness was present, and children were always told what their offence was. It was never used for first offences.

The school has amended its corporal punishment policy to allow only parents to use the paddle.

The Education Act says any employee of a school must not use force to punish a child, but parents may do so.

Mr Wilson said the school had not used corporal punishment in the past year.

The Education Review Office will also investigate use of corporal punishment by Masterton's Homeleigh Christian School when a review team visits the school this year.

Southern group manager Val Fergusson said the office had not previously had any problems with schools whose Christian beliefs endorsed corporal punishment.

Homeleigh Christian School board of trustees member Dennis Bartlett has said the school canes pupils as a last resort for serious misbehaviour.

Though the law did not allow corporal punishment, it was a clear Bible teaching which parents supported, he said.

Ms Fergusson said the last audit at Homeleigh was in 1992, when the office used different procedures, and the issue of corporal punishment was not mentioned in the school's report.

Now the office asked all schools about corporal punishment and "that question would certainly be asked when we next visit."

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