Disciplinary action in schools – how far is too far, and who is responsible?

The issue of corporal punishment in schools is still a debate to date. Even after it was banned, some feel that they would like corporal punishment to resurface.

But how far is too far when it comes to taking disciplinary action as a teacher? A story done in the local dailies a while ago, about a schoolgirl whose death seems unexplained but is allegedly tied to a case of corporal punishment, went gone sour after she died. This and many other similar stories have been reported from both primary and secondary school levels.

There is the appreciation that teachers are a part of the shaping of our students’ lives, however, personal emotions can easily distort a disciplinary issue into a bitter, senseless act of inhumanity. It has been said that ‘spare the rod and spoil the child, however, it does not say use the rod and kill the child. There must be some limits and better alternatives to corporal punishment, and more so, who gives this punishment.

The understanding of discipline is to correct the person who has done wrong and, in the end, direct the wrongdoer into what is the right thing to do.

When can we stop personalizing the matter of discipline and start looking at it from a holistic viewpoint, where we look at what has been done, a suitable consequence, and thereafter a way forward so that the mistake is not repeated. Teaching is one of those jobs that you can’t afford to mix your issues in.  It seems that teachers who take caning too far see the student as someone they like or don’t like, other than seeing them as what they are, a student.

I wonder, does what students do as ”misbehavior” deserve such treatment?

Teresea Thiu, Teacher and Counselling Psychologist says “There are many factors, why children behave the way they do. Introducing the cane in school? I do not think that will help. We must get things right. We need to ask ourselves, why was the cane banned in the first place? … I know there is a place for the cane. But let the parents do their work.”

The issue of disciplining and raising our children, especially at this student level, should start at home. Parents need to be intentional about how and who are they are raising.

Another aspect is our relationship as parents with our children’s teachers. Remember that life has a lot to do with how we handle relationships. Not that we should pretend, or be best friends with our children’s teachers, but are we involved is the question?  If we leave everything to the teacher and eventually the world, we will end up missing the point of parenthood. The child is yours.


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