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School CP - December 1989

Corpun file 3690

YOU, Cape Town, December 1989

Readers' Forum

Carry on caning -- parents

Six Of The Best Are Illegal ... was a recent YOU headline that has become a popular talking point. Letters have been streaming in about a father taking his son's school to court for giving corporal punishment. We have heard from furious parents, angry teachers -- and the pupils themselves ...

IS corporal punishment in schools still tolerable, or even desirable?

Of course, say our readers.

"Hammer those kids if necessary," hisses a furious parent in one of the many letters sent to YOU since we broached the issue of caning.

The story Six Of The Best Are Illegal in our November 30 edition has prompted an outspoken reaction from parents, teachers and pupils. The article spelled out the rules governing the imposition of corporal punishment in our schools but it held few surprises for the majority of parents.

What did shock them was the fact that a father wanted to take a teacher to court for caning a pupil. Many parents feel that a child should be well and truly punished if he has been naughty.

Other readers are exceptionally thankful that there are regulations that govern a teacher once he becomes a cane-swinging disciplinarian. Among these readers are two pupils, one of whom sent us pictures of dreadfully swollen weals on his buttocks.

"My name is Mornè and I'll be 18 this year," he writes from his home in the Transvaal. "The incident in which I was so badly beaten has turned me completely against the staff of the school I attend.

"A few of my friends and I bunked school. I am guilty, I know that. But the day we were caught, the acting headmaster asked me what I was getting up to with the girls after school. I answered, 'Nothing ... what do you think I've been doing?'

"He was furious and the cuts were very unpleasant.

"What disturbed me most was the fact that he caned me because he was angry, not because I should have been punished. That was not fair.

"Why do teachers always try to hit their hardest? Why are we not allowed to differ from them?"

And Anti-Corporal Punishment of Brentwood Park writes that she completed her matric two years ago but can still remember clearly how some girls were grabbed by their blazers and given a good shaking.

"What is the point of having rules that aren't obeyed? The law says girls may not be subjected to corporal punishment, but may they be shaken around?"


"I was caned because the teacher was angry, not because I should have been punished," writes Mornè, a Transvaal schoolboy. He sent this picture with his letter.

But most parents and teachers who responded to the article contradicted these two viewpoints. The common feeling is: hammer them when a hammering is necessary.

J.G. Kruger of Sunnyside in Pretoria writes: "I am glad discipline is still a high priority in South African schools, otherwise we would have daily reports -- as in countries abroad -- of assaults on those people in positions of authority."

A parent writes from Welkom, using a nom de plume, that in the picture accompanying the YOU article, the weals on the boy's rump "aren't so bad.

"It was a good hiding, one which he deserved and not nearly as serious as you make it out to be.

"When I was still at school we had to be caned in front of the entire class and each stroke was worse than those in your picture. I believe a child must be brought up by example, guidance, love and understanding -- but also with the understanding that he will be punished for serious misdemeanours."

M.D. writes from George: "It's the lack of corporal punishment that turns so many children into gangsters or cause them to become insufferably arrogant at a very early age. They begin thinking they are above punishment.

"A good hiding has never done anyone harm. If children are naughty they must be punished. What do detentions and lines help? They spur children on to new heights of mischief because detentions are fun ........"

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