Corporal punishment in schools: understanding the impacts
By Richard Geeves As a parent it’s hard to accept that so much of our children’s lives are largely beyond our control. We send them off to school with the hope that their teachers will nurture their learning, and ensure they feel safe and cared for. With most Australian schools having banned corporal punishment, it’s a reminder of how far we’ve come in eliminating the risk of physical harm from our classrooms.
Unfortunately for many children in the Asia Pacific, getting hit, pinched, slapped, beaten or kicked by a teacher is still a too common occurrence. In Papua New Guinea (a country closer to our shores than New Zealand) children are often physically punished at school – the very place where they are supposed to feel safe to learn and play.
Despite the gathering strength of a global movement to ban it, corporal punishment is still routinely administered in schools in many countries in the Asia-Pacific region. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that physical punishment in schools inhibits learning and can be harmful to a child’s physical and mental health. As key indicators of schooling improve in these countries, thanks to domestic investment in education and international aid initiatives, corporal punishment remains an entrenched problem.
Here in Australia, corporal punishment has been removed from our classrooms through strong legal measures, coupled with a social and cultural shift away from techniques of classroom management which rely on physical punishment, to alternatives such as positive discipline. But for countries like Papua New Guinea, which have committed to changing policy to prohibit corporal punishment, official policy change alone has not been enough.
A baseline survey completed in 2018 by ChildFund Australia reveals that in one region of PNG’s Central Province, over 80% of children reported experiencing corporal punishment. Many of these children reported going to school in fear of …read more