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Need for wide discussion on removing flogging

Faith Marshall-Harris

Need for wide discussion on removing flogging

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FOR THE MOST PART the article carried in your newspaper on December 11, accurately reflected some of the views I expressed. However, I beg that you allow me to correct a number of statements made, lest they convey the wrong impression.

1. I did not state categorically that there is no move to ban whipping in schools across the board since it is not within my purview to make such a sweeping statement.

What I did say was that the Attorney General did not speak of schools generally. He made reference to the juvenile justice system in general and reform schools, that is the Government Industrial Schools in particular.

The legislative reform he proposed will affect the Juvenile Offenders Act, the Magistrate’s Courts Act and the Reformatory and Industrial Schools Act, all of which prescribe whipping as either a judicial sentence or punishment.

I pointed out that it was about time we made this move since the sentence of whipping in the first two named acts is never used. Such reform would be also in keeping with our commitment to international conventions.

2. On the contrary, I pointed out that there is a proposal to ban corporal punishment in schools but this would be part of a revision of the Education Act and in keeping with present protocol, I confidently expect that any such revision will be subject to widespread stakeholder and public consultation on this and any other issues of reform.

While there is a strong lobby to retain corporal punishment in schools, there is also an equally strong lobby to remove it.

Therefore it will be necessary to have the widest possible discussion. I can hardly be heard to say that there is no move whatsoever to ban such punishment in schools since I have recommended a phased reduction leading to the eventual removal of its use in schools.

3. My statement that whipping applied to boys only, which is discriminatory, was with reference to the Reformatory And Industrial Schools Act and Magistrates’ Courts Act and not the Juvenile Offenders Act.

4. Finally, I stated that I look forward to the ideal when parents need not inflict any form of corporal punishment to get a child to behave.

This clarification is necessary since it is obvious that sometimes it may be necessary to discipline a child, but this should be by non-violent means.

– Faith Marshall-Harris

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