A readers’ poll that attracted more than 2000 votes on our website, Timeslive.co.za, yesterday showed that eight out of 10 people believed pupils should be caned.
It coincides with a report from the Gauteng legislature’s education portfolio committee indicating high school children felt corporal punishment is the only way to instil discipline at schools.
The study among 400 pupils at eight high schools on Gauteng’s West Rand showed an overwhelming number of pupils believed caning would make a difference.
Some 80% of the 2423 readers who responded to the poll on Timeslive.co.za on Sunday and Monday said there was “nothing wrong with a good hiding now and again”, and only 20% were completely against corporal punishment resuming at schools.
Johannesburg-based educational psychologist Nadia Louw said these findings did not surprise her as people often told her that if pupils received a “good hiding, there wouldn’t be so many problems in schools”.
Louw said it was difficult to speculate about the reasons behind people’s votes, but parents had experienced corporal punishment when they were at school and did not see any harm in it.
“They might not know how to deal with teenagers and feel [corporal punishment] is the easiest way.”
Louw does not endorse corporal punishment in schools and said pupils should rather be disciplined in a “constructive manner” by working in the school’s garden or being sent for counselling.
Professor Shireen Motala
from the University of Johannesburg said the results show that people are concerned about “the breakdown of discipline in schools”.
“We can’t go back to corporal punishment. It’s not the solution.”
She said schools need to look at ways of disciplining pupils in a rehabilitative rather than a punitive manner.
This could include making badly behaved pupils do community service, Motala said.
The results of the poll differed dramatically from the opinions parents expressed yesterday.
Gordon Hosman, 51, whose 15-year-old daughter attends school in Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, said hitting children at school will damage their self-esteem.
“I wouldn’t go for corporal punishment. Parents and teachers need to be educated on how to talk to children.
“Hitting them is not a good idea. You must talk them right,” Hosman said.
Constance Sithole, 32, said she doesn’t want teachers to hit her 13-year-old son, who attends school in Midrand.
She said corporal punishment should not be reintroduced at schools as some teachers “might end up abusing it”.
“Don’t hit him. Just sit down and talk. I never hit him.
” I talk to him and he knows he is wrong and he apologises,” she said.
The Sunday Times reported that more than 200 cases of teachers administering corporal punishment have been investigated by provincial education departments in the past 12 months.
More than a dozen teachers had been found guilty and were given final warnings, suspended without pay, fined between R2500 and R3000, or slapped with a combination of the punishments