Chief Education Officer, Melena Fontaine says the Child-friendly Schools initiative is putting alternative measures in place that could lead to the elimination of corporal punishment as a form of discipline.
Melena Fontaine2She was speaking in an interview with GIS News on Monday, March 14th at the first of a series of workshops on the subject with education stakeholders.
“On the issue of corporal punishment,” she said, “although it is on the books and legal, we have been promoting alternative disciplinary practices. The Education Act says corporal punishment is a last resort, so make it a last resort because there are so many other strategies that we can use to discipline children.
“We are actually seeing a decrease in the use of corporal punishment in our schools not because we are saying not to use it but because there is no need to use it thanks to the alternative measures.”
Asked about the total elimination of corporal punishment, the Chief Education Officer responded in this way:
“People have to understand that there is a fine line between discipline and child abuse. They are so many incidents where people are saying that they were using corporal punishment but really it was physical abuse. So we have to really rethink this thing and look at the research and what is happening internationally and decide whether we want to keep [corporal abuse] on our books.”
She notes that the overall goal of the child-friendly schools program is for students to do well.
“We want our education system to be one which helps children succeed. For them to succeed, the environment must be conducive; it must be safe, healthy and positive and we want parents, the community and society to join us in that,” she stated.