A youth expert has called for the return of corporal punishment in classrooms to help cut youth violence in schools.
Police & Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) WA CEO John Gillespie said stronger disciplinary measures were needed to ensure school students were “behaving properly in the classroom and also in the playground” while also protecting teachers from violence by students.
“At the moment, teachers have got no protection in the class,” Mr Gillespie said.
“Not all kids need that, but what I’m saying is that teachers do need to have or schools need to have a form of stronger discipline in place which maybe is not being provided at home.”
“I’m going to say this right now, bring back corporal punishment. Bring back the belt, bring back the cane.”
Mr Gillespie said he spoke from experience.
“I got the cane at school, I put my hand out and got the cane and it did me no harm,” he said.
However, he said a balanced approach was still needed.
“We tend to go down the soft approach rather than sometimes the hard approach,” Mr Gillespie said.
“I think we’ve gone away too much one way while having the right balance.”
His comments came after a student was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm after attacking another student at Busselton Senior High School several weeks ago.
A fellow student who witnessed the fight filmed it on a smart phone, which was later uploaded online.
The attack has resulted in discussions about stronger violence prevention measures in schools.
“How do you draw the line about ensuring that you protect two 16-year-olds as opposed to protecting yourself and perhaps younger children as well,” Education Minister Sue Ellery said on ABC Radio on Thursday.
“That is not okay behaviour and we need to have a broader conversation about how we tackle that kind of thing.
Mr Gillespie said cameras on smart phones and social media intensified the impacts of violence.
“The advent of everybody having mobile telephones, being able to video record and take photographs, society’s changed in terms of these incidents being viewed on Facebook or other social media forums,” he said.
“These things on social media, YouTube, whatever, where they are, escalates the problem and I think what it does is it skews what the problem is.”
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said schools and the WA Education Department needed to handle serious incidents of violence.
“Any physical fight between students at school are clearly serious matters that the school authorities have to deal with,” Mr Dawson said.
However, he said fights were not uncommon in schools, but WA Police would get involved if there was a serious incident.
“If there’s evidence of a criminal assault, police may and do get involved,” Mr Dawson said.