Attitudes of students, parents and teachers towards the use of corporal punishment in senior secondary schools.
Sogoni, Elphina Nontuthuzelo Matu.
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This study investigated attitudes of students, parents and teachers towards the use of corporal punishment in three senior secondary schools. The sample consisted of 360 students, 175 parents and 60 teachers (n = 595 respondents). Parents' and teachers' ages ranged between 23 and 79 years, whereas students' ages ranged between 13 and 29 years. Three researcher-designed questionnaires and an interview schedule were used to collect data aimed at measuring attitudes of respondents through the Likert Scale as well as open-ended items requiring opinion. Having been granted permission by the Education Department to administer questionnaires in schools, a pilot study was carried out on a relatively small scale, with respondents roughly similar to those of the final study. This was followed by the administration of questionnaires to each school in turns. Parents' meetings created an opportunity of administering questionnaires for parents and an audiotape was used for recording interviews. This study presents the first step in the development of a measuring scale, the validity of which will only become apparent after extensive use by subsequent researchers, subjecting their data to meta-analysis. The collected data were analyzed through the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The crosstabulation of raw data was used to investigate differences among subjects that fall into different categories. To find the significance of differences, the chi-squared test was used. Only items reflecting significant differences were discussed, with the level of significance set between 0.01 and 0.05. This findings of the study suggest support for the view that corporal punishment should be retained as it is believed to instil good discipline which produces good results: provided there is proper supervision, which was lacking with the past education department. Some teachers, and even principals, have been found guilty of sexually abusing schoolgirls. Teachers, when on strike, pledge solidarity with students. Some students assault teachers and hold them hostage. All this points to the collapse of authority and morals for both students and teachers, and thus some respondents feel that even if caning is retained, for as long as teachers' behaviour is not monitored and scrutinized by the Department of Education, it would be dangerous to allow students to be caned by such irresponsible people (teachers), hiding under the protective cover of the unions. The study recommends that, now that corporal punishment in schools has been banned, there should be an in-built mechanism in schools to monitor caning to protect children from victimization. History has warned that even if 'official' caning ceases, but 'unofficial' caning will never stop. The code of conduct for both teachers and students should be in place, and strictly adhered to, in order to restore sound morals and mutual respect. Rigorous in-service training and work shopping to empower teachers with alternative management skills which could render corporal punishment unnecessary, should be conducted. Caution should be taken as alternatives have their limitations and shortcomings, more especially in the South African context, with its multi-cultural characteristics and diversification. It is not sufficient to conclude that respondents in this study seem to be satisfied with the retention of the cane as these results may not reflect the general view of the students, teachers and parents country-wide. An urgent country-wide research on caning should be embarked upon to get the general and different views, as the decision to ban corporal punishment seemingly does not reflect any prior nationwide research which, in turn, should inform practice and benefit changes.