Concern from District Health Centre about corporal punishment used in schools

Corporal punishment is forbidden in the Education Act of Tonga but students are still visiting  District Health Centres for treatment of problems caused by corporal punishment used for discipline in schools.

WCCC received a request from Fua’amotu Health Centre to run a session with the teachers of the Government Primary School at Fua’amotu. The aim of the session was to  clarify the Education Act and other relevant acts including the Family Protection Act and criminal law.

At the session WCCC Director, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, gave an overview of these acts which raised questions and comments from teachers. “I have done all I could to inform  the  teachers about the negative impacts of using corporal punishment. I think my endeavors will be better heard and understood if they hear it from the Centre’s perspective”, the principal said.

One teacher stated, “I am one of those teachers who is feared by students of this school because I resort to corporal punishment whenever they misbehave. Now I am beginning to see that there are other ways that I could use to discipline students instead of resorting to hitting them all the time. I and my fellow teachers should follow the law.”

Other teachers then came up with several methods they could use instead, one said “I have, at times, given class duty as punishment for students who misbehave and it does work better than giving them corporal punishment. It lets students reflect on their mistakes on a personal level without the fear of being hit, slapped or  yelled at.”

The session was facilitated by the WCCC Director, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, assisted by  counsellor, Sela Sausini Tu’itupou, the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Tonga Program Coordinator, Soana Pongi and the Centre’s Communication Advocate Tupou Mahe Lanumata.