Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw has hinted strongly at the possibility of an outright ban on corporal punishment at the island’s schools.
Bradshaw, the Acting Prime Minister in the absence of Prime Minister Mia Mottley who is on an official and personal trip abroad, according to the Barbados Government Information Service, today said corporal punishment was proving to be an ineffective means of disciplining children.
In any event, the minister said, physical punishment did more harm than good, as she revealed plans to introduce a new policy on discipline.
“We are already in the ministry seeing that schools across Barbados have implemented the principles of the school positive behavior management programme, and a new discipline policy is being developed as it is realized that something about our punishment system is simply not working.
“We have a system that has been based on corporal punishment in the schools. There’ve been some modifications to it, but . . . there are several studies which have shown that there are children who are at different levels and sometimes the harsh punishment of physically punishing a child is simply not working, and sometimes it will actually does more harm than good to the children in our educational system and even across the households,” Bradshaw told those gathered at the Princess Margaret Secondary School at Six Roads, St Philip for the launch of an anti-violence campaign organized by the ministry and the child rights agency, UNICEF, under the theme, Peace Begins With Me; Talk it Out, Violence Solves Nothing.
“The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training realizes the new approach [is] to be implemented and that [it]must focus on discipline. The essence of discipline is finding effective alternatives to punishment and the most effective one that comes to mind is providing our children with the skill they need for living in harmony with one another. Taking a proactive approach is the first step in the direction of change. The next step is finding ways to incorporate peace-making skills into daily classroom activities,” she added, while going on to stress that discussing issues must be the norm rather than the exception.
“We are basically asking people to talk out things as a opposed to reacting and being violent,” the minister said.
Bradshaw pointed to an increasing number of viral videos that promote violence, sometimes among students, and she pledged that her ministry would not tolerate violence at school.
“Incidents of violence are increasing in our schools and society at large and often the same students are involved repeatedly. In response parents and educators of society in general have started to call for solutions to the problems we face daily in our schools. We come here today to launch this campaign but this will not be the end of the ministry’s efforts to ensure that the message is sent far and wide that violence will not be tolerated,” the Minister of Education warned.