Family First NZ says that half of NZ’ers support corporal punishment in schools, and the events of the past week may have pushed that support higher.
The Curia Market Research poll surveyed 1,000 people at the end of March. In response to the question “Do you think a school should be able to choose to use corporal punishment, if the Board, Parents and Principal wish to have this as an option for school discipline?” 50% responded yes, 44% said no, and 6% didn’t know.
“In a week where we have seen knives in schools, principals asking for greater search powers for weapons but ‘rights’ groups rejecting this call, and teachers expressing ongoing concerns about their safety, we need to ask ourselves whether the approach pushed by the teachers’ unions and children’s rights groups have been in the best interests of both the students and the whole school community,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“This poll suggests that many NZ’ers realise that there is an urgent need for strong boundaries and real and effective consequences. Ironically, the main support for corporal punishment comes from the above-40 age group who would have experienced corporal punishment and the effects on their own behaviour and the safer school environment.”
“It is significant that as schools have removed corporal punishment, schools have become more dangerous. School yard bullying by pupils on other pupils and staff is now the new form of ‘corporal punishment’ in schools.”
“Schools are being pressured not to suspend students and are now tolerating an unacceptable level of violence, sexual and offensive behaviour and intimidation,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Education Ministry figures in 2007 revealed that violence and dangerous behaviour is on the rise in schools with more pupils assaulting teachers and classmates. Family First also uncovered figures showing a 37 per cent surge in primary school disciplinary actions. Primary schools are reporting increasingly violent misbehaviour by children as young as five.
Ministry of Justice statistics for pre-teen violence released just last month also showed a disturbing trend. From 1998-2008, the number of police apprehensions for grievous/serious assaults by 10-13 year olds increased by more than 70%. For each of the most recent two years, there has been almost 1,000 apprehensions for 10-13 year olds for all violent offences, which include aggravated robbery, sexual violation, indecent assault, and serious assaults – an increase of a third since 1998.
“Student and youth behaviour will continue to deteriorate for as long as we tell them that their rights are more important than their responsibilities, that proper parental authority and responsibilities are undermined and subject to the rights of their children, and that there will be no consequences of any significance or effectiveness for what they do,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“This poll should re-open the debate on the role of authority and effective consequences, and what really makes our young people and society safer.”
The poll was conducted between 24 and 28 March 2010 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.