Home News “Positive discipline” rather than corporal punishment – ChildLink advises
It has been found that children who are abused sexually are afraid to speak out because they are afraid their parents, or even teachers may hit them. This is according to ChildLink, an advocacy group which recently completed a study on Child Sexual Abuse in Guyana.
The group, in concluding its report, recommended that positive discipline be used in homes and in schools rather than corporal punishment as it continues to be a reason why many children are afraid to ‘tell’.
“This study demonstrates that fear of beatings deters children from speaking with their carers about abuse. General acceptance of corporal punishment also allows sexually abusive carers to beat children into silence,” the report states.
It added that Guyana remains one of the few countries that still permits child corporal punishment in the home, schools, in some alternative care settings as well as in some day care facilities.
ChildLink is positive, having conducted the study that, “teaching parents, carers and educators proactive, positive discipline rather than (corporal) punishment would create an environment that is less conducive to child sexual abuse, (as) corporal punishment sabotages efforts to teach about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ or ‘inappropriate touching’”.
In June 2014, the historic Education Bill was tabled in the National Assembly by the then Education Minister Priya Manickchand. While the use of corporal punishment in the education system is still allowed in the school system, there are specific guidelines under which it can be administered. In this context, corporal punishment can only be administered by the head teacher, deputy head teacher, or designated senior master/mistress and can only be used in cases of continued display of unacceptable behaviour or in grave circumstances.
Meanwhile, in the penal system under the enacted the Juvenile Justice Act 2018, all corporal punishment is prohibited against children in penal institutions and as a sentence for a crime. Under the Act, corporal punishment is also unlawful as a sentence for a crime as Article 15 of the Act states that juveniles “shall be dealt with as provided for in this Act”. Part VI of the Act on sentencing makes no provision for judicial corporal punishment.
Children in Guyana can, however, still be lawfully subjected to corporal punishment in the home, alternative care and day care settings and in schools.
While the debate on corporal punishment in Guyana continues to be debated as to whether it is a disciplinary mode or abuse, President David Granger in 2016 had called for the abolition of corporal punishment in Guyana. Quoting from the Bible, the head of state had said that to “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is a backward move, noting that parents should use nonphysical means to uphold discipline within the home.
“We need to remove all forms of corporal punishment from the school and in the home. Maybe 50 years, 100 years ago it might have been typical but the days of going into a classroom or a home and seeing the wild cane have passed. Intelligent educated parents must use different means which do not involve the application of force,” the President had when addressing the issue of corporal punishment.