Ingrid Fernandez/ Staff Journalist
Six children age 10 to 12, from the Calvary Temple Primary School in Belize City participated in a debate to discuss the issue of corporal punishment in schools this week.
The atmosphere was heated as both teams offered compelling points in support and against whether teachers should use corporal punishment in the classroom.
In the end, the affirmative team, which argued that corporal punishment should be used in the classroom won out with 27 points, beating the team opposed to corporal punishment by one point.
Mildred Romero, 11, captain of the affirmative team stated firmly that teachers should use Corporal Punishment in schools because “with the absence of corporal punishment the children are likely to go wild,and it helps them be more polite.”
Paul Martinez, 11, captain opposed to capital punishment declared that “Violence is not the right way to deal with a problem. Instead teachers should talk to the children, telling them What is the problem? What makes you so rude? And using other methods.”
Organizer of the debate, Std.V teacher Damien Parchue observed that by participating in a debate will teach the children children persuasion , research, information gathering, public speaking and argumentative skills.
Parchue stated that the topic is significant because the children can identify with the issue, most probably because they have been victims of corporal punishments at some time in their young lives.
Child play aside however, Parchue shared that the passing of the new anti corporal punishment regulations, making it illegal for teachers to use it against children, have created problems for teachers who have a hard time transitioning to non-use of corporal punishment.
The problem arises, Parchue said, because teachers have no alternative mechanisms for behavioral discipline that actually work. “In some of the alternative methods we use, we find that we punish ourselves when we are punishing them and the children get away with crime” stated Parchue.
Alternative measures of behavioral correction are not working Parchue stated because children understand that the repercussions for infractions are not severe for them.
The schools use methods of labour and detention to correct behavior issues, but many times children rebel against these and simply do not comply.
Teachers are hoping that the Ministry of Education will take a more proactive role to provide alternative methods that work.
On the other hand banning of Corporal Punishment has positive effects because a number of teachers over-use and abuse the ability to punish children in that way.
The Principal of Calvary Temple, Gorgette Bartley Wright, added that although corporal punishment is not a method regularly used in schools, the absence of it has created a problem for the teachers who are struggling to adapt.
“We have found that, yes, we have been struggling, but for the most part in cases where we have parental support, we have found that just talking to our students or giving them things to do t has changed their behavior” Wright observed.
She concluded that with the cooperation of the administration, teachers and parents, corporal punishment is not necessary and most children can be reached through alternative methods.