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School CP - December 2001

Taipei Times, 11 December 2001

Physical punishment still widely popular in schools

Students' Rights: A committee set up by the DPP government to eradicate corporal punishment said that it is still used in 95 percent of schools in Taiwan

By Sandy Huang
Staff Reporter

Corporal punishment is still widely practiced in Taiwan's schools despite attempts by the government over the past two years to eradicate it, an educator said yesterday.

"About 95 percent of schools nationwide still inflict corporal punishment on students," said Feng Yen, a member of the Human Rights Education Committee of the Ministry of Education.

"This shows that the public at large has yet to fully grasp the idea that such actions violate human rights," Feng said at a press conference held by the education ministry yesterday.

The committee, whose 25 members include eight academic experts, four representatives of NGOs, in addition to education ministry officials, was established in April to promote human rights in education.

The last KMT administration spoke out against corporal punishment during its last months in office in response to growing public pressure to end the practice. But the DPP government is hoping the committee will take more decisive action even though parents are not united in their distaste for physically punishing students.

"We found that more often than not that teachers are encouraged by students' parents to inflict corporal punishment in schools to discipline their children," Feng said.

Feng pointed out that corporal punishment is a long-standing practice in Taiwan. It has been accepted by teachers and parents, and sometimes even students, as an effective way to instil discipline, he said.

Smacking students' hands and backsides are the preferred forms of punishment. Teachers sometimes force students to endure discomfort such as to stand for a long time while maintaining an awkward posture or to make them kneel on a hard floor.

"Some teachers justify their acts as a way to discipline their students," Feng said. "But, they do not realize that ultimately they are telling the kids that it is okay to use violence to punish wrongdoings."

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