Corporal Punishment5331 09 Aug, 2012
Ms. Ally: I rise to speak on the motion that is before us. Following the tabling of the United Nations Human Rights Council Reports of the 8th and 15th Sessions, respectively and following the recommendations thereon, Guyana committed to consult on these three main and controversial issues, one of which is the abolition of corporal punishment. I would like to focus of this aspect of the motion which speaks to corporal punishment.
Mr. Speaker, you will agree that the question of corporal punishment is one which engages the populace with mixed views. It brings to bear our very attitude of parents towards their children at home, teachers and pupils at school and sometimes ventures out even to the wider society. In June, 2007 the question of corporal punishment was extensively debated right here in this House, but we have come a long way in this modern and new world and we conclude that corporal punishment has a legacy of the days of slavery. It also illustrates it is an acceptable way to gain control over others. I am cognizant that the Ministry of Education, under the auspices of the Minister, has commenced consultations in various regions on this fragile issue and the responses have emanated mixed views. I would like to make the following points:
(i) Dated back to April, 2006, in Japan, more than eight hundred religious groups, including Guyana, signed and adopted a declaration on violence against children.
(ii) The Baha’i teachings prohibit corporal punishment.
(iii) In 1991, Guyana signed on to the Rights of the Child Convention, hence we are legally bound by the provisions of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. This convention, Sir, sets out universal legal standards for the protection of our children against neglect, abuse and exploitation and guarantees children their basic human rights.
(iv) In February, 2004, at the 25th Convention held in Geneva, the committee again admonished that Guyana should prohibit corporal punishment by law.
(v) The continued use of corporal punishment in schools is a violation of article 19 of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.
(vi) On the 27th of November, 2000, no less a person than former President Bharrat Jagdeo publicly came out against corporal punishments in schools at a national forum.
I can go on to cite many more indices of supporting the abolition of corporal punishment, but I will now proceed to make the following recommendations:
(i) While many of us might have been subjected to corporal punishment in our days, be it at home or at school, as I was in both cases, we have come of age when we must dispense of with such obsolete measure.
(ii) We must recognise that beating drives fear in many boys and girls; hence there are many runways from homes, dropouts from schools, early childhood retaliation and an advanced form of child labour.
(iii) We must advance mechanisms for teachers and parents to inculcate new methods of discipline such as a reward or punishment without brutal force for activities, activity-oriented rather than laissez-faire method, but at all times we must refrain from employing brute force and ignorance on our children. We the adults must reform ourselves and equipp our minds to deal with a modern day world.
The time has come when we must address this issue of corporal punishment for our children, and since this is a very important issue, which must to be brought to finality. I concur therefore that these matters be referred to a Special Select Committee which will organise national consultations in order to bring this matter to finality.
Finally, I want to posit, on behalf of APNU, to our parents, teachers and indeed the Guyanese population to take seriously the welfare of the nation’s children, our tomorrow’s future, the religious community, the world, through the Rights of the Child Convention, and respond adequately to this issue. Let us enjoin the world to treat our children with respect and develop a violent-free mind. We do not have to abdicate the responsibility to discipline our children, but we must develop new and acceptable methods to do so.
I thank you. [Applause]
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