Allegations that New Zealand school administers corporal punishment

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

South Auckland Tyndale Park Christian School have been asking parents of the pupils for permission to administer corporal punishment. The parents are informed that corporal punishment is illegal in New Zealand schools but it quotes the Bible "we ought to serve God rather than men". Strapping children has been illegal since 1989.

"When this law was changed. . . exceptions were not given based on whether a school believed it was serving 'God rather than men'. The Education Ministry should investigate allegations that trustees and staff at an Auckland school have sought permission from parents to strap children. It appears to me the school is deliberately breaking the law," Green Party Member (MP), Sue Bradford, said.

Today the New Zealand Herald reported that they had obtained documents that outline the school's "corporal correction" policy. The policy states that the strap must be given on the hand after consultation with another staff member and while that staff member is present. The child will then either be spoken to, prayed with or both.

Bradford said: "A full investigation was needed to ascertain whether any students at the school had been assaulted."

Tyndale Park Christian School is a private Christian school that caters for students ranging from Year 1 to Year 13. The costs range from NZ$708-$1070 per term.

Jan Brinkham, school manager, said: "Our enrollment policy is between the parents who enroll children here and ourselves. We are not a state school; we are not bound by a particular enrollment policy," but declined to talk or comment to the New Zealand Herald about the schools corporal punishment. "This is between the parents that enrol their children at our school and that is where the buck stops. It's got nothing to do with anyone else except our parents," he added.

The Education Review Office (ERO) and the Ministry of Education said that they were unaware of the policy and that private schools are not legally obliged to produce documents to government bodies.

ERO last year said in a report: "The school manager should ensure that parents are clearly informed that the school administers no corporal punishment."

Charlene Scotti, ERO area manger of review services said: "Some schools had policies to call parents in for cases where corporal punishment was required, but were careful not to include staff in punishing students."

Bruce Adin, Ministry of Education northern regional manager, said: "The legality of the Tyndale Park document was unclear, but if school staff strapped a student it would be illegal."

"Corporal punishment in schools was made illegal years ago because it was considered to be brutal and unnecessary," Bradford said.

Sources

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