Ministry of Education discusses future of corporal punishment

Chief Education Officer Melena Fontaine
Chief Education Officer Melena Fontaine

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.

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33 Comments

  1. Faith
    March 22, 2016

    Do we really want to follow the footsteps of the US schools? Spare the rod next is no prayer leads to out with the bible then here comes homo. Let’s wait for the approval of fire arms in schools then we will embrace mass school shootings. Just wait not to long.

  2. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    March 22, 2016

    Steve I Think You need an Education!

    Corporal Punishment or physical punishment is punishment intended to cause physical pain on a person. Common methods include spanking,paddling, and caning. Corporal punishment is commonly inflicted onminors, especially in home settings, but can also be used on adults, particularly prisoners in some countries.

    Official punishment for crime by inflicting pain or injury, including flogging,branding and even mutilation, was practised in most civilisations sinceancient times. However, with the growth of humanitarian ideals since theEnlightenment, such punishments were increasingly viewed asinhumane. By the late 20th century, corporal punishment had been eliminated from the legal systems of most developed countries.[1]

    The legality in the 21st century of corporal punishment in various settings differs by jurisdiction. Internationally, the late 20th century and early 21st century saw the application of human rights law to the question of…

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      March 22, 2016

      The legality in the 21st century of corporal punishment in various settings differs by jurisdiction. Internationally, the late 20th century and early 21st century saw the application of human rights law to the question of corporal punishment in a number of contexts:

      Family or domestic corporal punishment typically, punishment of children or teenagers by parents or other adult guardians is legal in most of the world. 48 countries, most of them in Europe and Latin America, have banned the practice as of December 2015.[2]
      School corporal punishment of students by teachers or school administrators has been banned in many countries, including Canada, Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand and nearly all of Europe. It remains legal, if increasingly less common, in the United States.
      Judicial corporal punishment, as part of a criminal sentence ordered by a court of law, has long disappeared from European countries. However, it remains lawful in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

  3. timb
    March 21, 2016

    About time….parents must also be arrested for beating kids with leather belts and sticks and differ by firms if phyical punishment

  4. March 20, 2016

    If a child is well disciplined at home ,fears their parents ,there is no need for this child to behave badly at school…Most time children have nasty attitudes out side their homes it is because their parents are not role models and it is alright for a child to copy what he or she sees their parents do…I personally would not dear have any nasty attitude at school in my days because every body were friends with each other.The teachers were given permission by our parents to bit us if we behave badly ,we would be bitten by the teacher and the teacher would report to our parents and we would be smacked again,nonetheless I do not accept the idea that teachers should be smacking children that are not theirs, give the child a warning,write to the parents and then stricked measures should be taken such as expelling that child .If some children want to disturb their are some who wants to learn,so any trouble maker should not be at school ,

  5. %
    March 20, 2016

    These are the type of people that have the country so screws up….With all the mess we have in education just read Melena literature…Dominica is doomed!

  6. Face the Facts
    March 19, 2016

    Eliminate corporal punishment and replace it with some other form of punishment.
    Children will be children. Nevertheless, teach them the importance and practice of love, discipline and respect. These are not taught in the schools. If it is embedded in them, they might just be good youths, students and adults. They would also be obedient to their parents, older siblings at home, their teachers and outsiders.
    What is occurring with some teenage girls of all is because they have no regard for their parents and others. They are doing their own thing as if they are adults.
    Some of them may not have received proper discipline and training at home. Some of them are disobedient to their parents. If they cared what their parents and others thought of them, they would be model teenagers and students. These are in dire need of counseling and also other discipline.
    I have noted what some educators state on this Website. Let it not be all talk but also action, ASAP.

  7. Concerned
    March 19, 2016

    Create monsters still wen all u spearing d rod.hm

  8. Marguerite
    March 19, 2016

    “there is a fine line between discipline and child abuse”

    Yes!! Yes!!! Yessssss!!!!!!

  9. %
    March 19, 2016

    The entire country is in a mess and this includes the Ministry of Education…I thought this ministry would be more concerned with adjusting the schools curriculum to meet the needs of the country.Example make Agriculture a compulsory subject at all schools,make Civics,and Hospitality an integral part of the curriculum at all schools….But when square pegs are in round holes,one cannot expect better…The hands of the teachers are already tied re discipline,I can imagine what they will go through now.I speak particularly with reference to the public secondary schools,where students insult principals and teachers in the worst way possible..I REALLY DO HOPE THAT ALL TEACHERS MAINTAIN THEIR SANITY,AND RESIST STRESS IN THOSE DIFFICULT AND TRYING TIMES…If this ministry had any foresight,by now they would have device ways to reach the broken homes which spawns so many disruptive students…KEEP ON DESTROYING DOMINICA,one day things must het better!!!!

  10. Sue
    March 19, 2016

    Teachers are told not to hit. A child continually spits on, scratches, hits children and we continually send that child to the office just to be spoken to, they are told go back and say “sorry”, or you put them on time out. After a while it becomes a joke. I hit and I say sorry cause saying sorry solves the problem. Short cut. ” But Miss I told him/her sorry!” In these times when it is getting more difficult to raise and discipline our children we are busy to shelve the instructions of the ONE who has the manual on us and our children. “SPARE THE ROD AND SPOIL THE CHILD.” The rod is not all about hitting, it is about discipline and discipline takes different forms. The heart of a child is foolish, we have to guide them properly. We are the stewards of these children, we aught to remember the story of the talents…Let us not be the servant who buried his treasure. There is a difference between abuse and discipline. HE CHASTISES THOSE HE LOVES… THEY NEED THE ROD…

  11. vanessa
    March 19, 2016

    What alternative measures? Why don’t u say exactly what the alternative measures that are used? Lies only. Teachers are frustrated because nothing seems to work with the in discipline children parents cannot control.

    • hmmmm
      March 21, 2016

      You are so right. At a recent workshop they are unable to tell teachers what to replace it with. What is the alternatives? In the meantime parents sending these rude, violent, abusive children to school and teachers have to try to teach through all that.

      Come on people, teachers are not miracle workers.

  12. Business Minded
    March 19, 2016

    When I read statements like “She notes that the overall goal of the child-friendly schools program is for students to do well,” I cringe. This is really terrifying that such a policy which could further erode classroom management capacity in the school systems in the country, is under consideration. The minister addresses corporal punishment, but there is no mention of a disciplinary policy that would provide the schools with a tool to manage behavior.

    Ms. Fontaine, you must provide a disciplinary guideline that would assist teachers in maintaining discipline in the classroom. You cannot vicariously create a policy that would address an issue of such importance, and not include seasoned educators. I hope you would seat with them to implement such policy that should address both issues. If not, you will be planting the seeds that will sow even greater chaos than the good intentioned but -poorly -implementation of Universal education which already create so many problems.

  13. push ministries
    March 19, 2016

    So so sad.well we are creating more monsters for society wen we spear the rod and spoil the child.sad sad sad!

  14. R.Linton
    March 19, 2016

    Well I am not sure if this lady is in tune with the reality on the ground, but while corporal punishment a copy of the Western culture is being forced out the window; we have seen increase in fights, disrespect, sexual misconducts, more suicidal attempts, more drug abused, than any other time in our history. Research in the western cultures where corporal punishment is none existence , will reveal that suicidal deaths is in the millions, more teens are running away, more Parents are being locked in Jail or loosing parental hold by simply trying to correct their kids. You lady have and is being trained by the very same system where moral values is on the low, A system where shrinks (psychiatrist)etc has to be involved in families every day lives to give guidance. Is that considered Better? I believe; Engendering respect for authority at an early age is essential for individuals to engage successfully in society.

  15. H
    March 18, 2016

    Wow…. Melena, that’s what you really concern about….didn’t you use corporal punishment to correct your children so that they could be assests in society today?so why are you now using your position to allow other people’s children to be ill-discipline?….be careful what you are asking for. Why not concern about teahers and principals who are working hard to make you look good in education, while they cannot get their appointment? God is watching you.

  16. March 18, 2016

    Excellent news! Corporal punishment HAS TO GO! It’s totally hypocritical to tell children not to hit each other and then punish them by hitting! Hitting children is a form of bullying by those in positions of power – we can not hit our spouse or another adult without risk of criminal charges so why should we continue to hit the most vulnerable members of our society who need our loving moral guidance rather than harsh punishments. Hitting creates anger and stress within a child – it is unhealthy for them on every level – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Time elevate our consciousness and use the many PROVEN ways to help our children understand and learn without violence. We need to teach our children about non-violent leaders – Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Jesus, Buddha and SHOW them that we LIVE by these Golden Rule teachings. The principles of non-violent communication should be added to the curriculum for us to communicate more effectively. Let us evolve and let us LOVE.

  17. anonymous2
    March 18, 2016

    I doubt that they use any corporal punishment in the schools in DA these days.

    • Concerned Parent
      March 21, 2016

      They do! And when they don’t, they threaten the children by saying “they will hit them.” I have seen it. I have heard it.

  18. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    March 18, 2016

    Is it not strange sick, and funny that you come here talking nonsense about corporal punishment is on the books and legal? However, there seems to be no laws on your book protecting children from pedophile, raspiest and child molesters, which are one of the same!

    You should be ashamed to be talking that crap, because corporal punishment was never intended for the brutality of children in schools. In the British system, corporal punishment was actually a corporal in the police force trashing (beating) a criminal for a crime the criminal committed.

    The magistrate would sentence a dozen or more lashes, or less; depending on the magnitude of the crime. A police corporal would be assigned the task of beating the convicted; hence we derive at the term “corporal punishment!”

    A Corporal is the lowest noncommissioned officer ranking in the army, or police force above a private first class, and below a sergeant: in the marine corp above a lance corporal, and below a sergeant!

    • March 21, 2016

      That’s total nonsense, why do you make things like this up? The title “corporal” used by military and police forces comes from the Italian capo, meaning “head”. The adjective “corporal” in the sense of corporal punishment comes from the Latin corporalis, meaning “of the body”.

      Source: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=corporal

      • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
        March 22, 2016

        Steve you talking nonsense you know! I do not care what Greek mythology you can goggle, I stand by my words: Corporal punishment which I am talking about in the British system derived as I stated okay!

        Flooding is defined as to beat with a rod, or whip. And if you have any commonsense before you talk nonsense, trying to prove me wrong, you would take sometime and talk to someone in Dominica who may have remembered the days when corporal punishment was execute in Dominica.

        If you were not ignorant of the fact, you would realize the lady said the law of corporal punishment is still on the books. It is one thing to critique me but it is another thing to make a fool out of yourself!

        Can you say that in the British System Corporal punishment was not a sentence carried out by a corporal in the police force. Can you state here that Corporal punishment is not the flogging, or beating of a convict?

  19. Dan Tanner
    March 18, 2016

    Dominicans are brutal (and wrong) in thinking that beating children is a good thing. (Same applies to dogs.)

    “Spare the rod and spoil the child” DOES NOT appear in the Bible, by the way.

  20. I88iiu don't say
    March 18, 2016

    Do they still practice that s***, in this day and age.
    This shows how little we’ve grown, this is the twentieth century people.

    • March 21, 2016

      It’s actually the twenty-first century, not that you’d know it from the continued use of corporal punishment. Troubled young people should have every reasonable chance to succeed as students, but if there are those whose behaviour truly cannot be controlled nonviolently, then ultimately they should simply be expelled.

  21. bratt thomas
    March 18, 2016

    you beat a slave. Not a child! or anyone else. Slavery has been abolished!! hit my child and we have a problem.

  22. nicole
    March 18, 2016

    I don’t know what this lady is talking about. There is a very old but very wise saying which goes “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”

    I myself was not beat very often as a child since I was usually very well behaved. However the few beatings I got were very effective in helping to curb my bad habit.

    Corporal punishment is not the enemy- It is just NOT the SOLE enforcer. Sometimes people neglect the other forms of discipline and opt for corporal punishment ONLY. This is wrong.

    A variety of punishment methods should be used, with corporal punishment being among them.

    However, removing corporal punishment altogether would lead to a very SAD state of affairs. Just look at countries which had tried this method.

    My advice is to teach all educators with punishment responsibilities how to PROPERLY administer ALL forms of punishment, including corporal punishment.

    In this way, students will not be physically abused.

    But complete omission of corporal punishment is…

  23. UDOHREADYET
    March 18, 2016

    Is this person living in reality? Isn’t she aware of whats going on in society? the inability for teachers to discipline children in schools has lead to the very decay of schools in the US and elsewhere. Dominica is not America. its not everything that works in one country that will work in another.

  24. smdh
    March 18, 2016

    wasnt it already eliminated? isnt that why young grammar school students getting on like animals in school uniform in and out of school these past years? SMA boys no different. teachers threatened, children doing and saying what they want. Children need to be disciplined. BRING BACK CORPRAL PUNISHMENT IN ALL PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS! BON. This country is too free and the youth are growing up like animals. These days the new craze is for young girls to be fighting in public. in my time the young ladies i went to school with wouldnt dear demean themselves that way especially in public because they acted like ladies. these days little girls want to act like malcassay gataywass. PUNISH ALL OF THEM because they need to learn from early that their actions have consequences.

  25. Lange Kabwit
    March 18, 2016

    Melina Fontaine please rethink this one because we in Dominica too like to follow the wrong things. Children have to be disciplined, two strokes do not abuse. I am sure Fontaine got a few and she turned out as a good citizen. America took out corporal punishment And just see what is happening in their schools.

  26. Big Bannan
    March 18, 2016

    Coporal punishment is a disease that has plagued our society and in some cases robbed our children of their childhood . We were handed that culture from slavery. Sadly the very people who enacted that practice made it illegal in their country. Still our most respected teachers in schools are not the ones who produce bright children rather the ones who engage in corporal punishment.

    • %
      March 20, 2016

      Man shut the hell up… Do you even know what is going on at our schools? Do you know the insult,disrespect,and shame our teachers are absorbing on a daily basis?I think both you and Melina are very far removed from the Dominican 2016 reality. And you all expect teachers to transform the little and big monsters that are sent to them?

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