A case for corporal punishmentThe decision by the British government to scrap its 13-year-old “no touch” policy - which completely bans corporal punishment on students - has lots of thought-provoking implications for our schools. Above all, it sheds light on our new guidelines, which strictly prohibit elementary, middle and high school teachers from using physical punishment as a means to control students. Because of our new policy, led by liberal superintendents across the country, teachers are experiencing an enormous amount of trouble in disciplining students in the classroom.
The U.K. Ministry of Education, however, will allow teachers to use corporal punishment at schools in a new rule that takes effect in September. This shift reflects the judgment that corporal punishment is an inevitable tool to restrain problematic students and prevent further infringement on teachers’ authority.
The British government approved the new measure in an effort to minimize the side-effects, such as an increased number of violent students and critical damage to teachers’ authority. According to news reports, the number of students who were suspended from school for violent behavior skyrocketed to 1,000 per day on average last year, a two-fold increase from the previous year. As a result, a total of 44 teachers were hospitalized last year alone, not to mention a case in which a female teacher was sexually assaulted by a male student just one week after starting her job. It’s not strange that two-thirds of teachers in the U.K. have wanted to quit teaching.
In Korea, too, many are expressing worries about teachers’ ever-weakening power and lack of discipline in the classroom - particularly after a ban on corporal punishment was enforced last year. No wonder nine out of 10 teachers feel that their authority has been badly diminished. The number of teachers who find themselves frustrated in the classroom is also on the rise. And their frustration is understandable, especially if they are reprimanded for making a student do a five-second push-up because the student talked on his mobile phone during class.
Under the circumstances, it would be far-fetched to wish for a “normal” school education. The enforcement ordinance on elementary, middle and high schools, which went into effect in March, permits indirect corporal punishments such as push-ups. Liberal superintendents’ insistence on an all-out ban on corporal punishment must be withdrawn. Otherwise, it is like giving up elementary and secondary education, which is crucial to our children’s future.