Amid controversy regarding whether corporal punishment should be abolished in schools, Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd said today that the Ministry of Education will not be sucked into making that decision while Bahamians continue to beat their children at home.
Lloyd said the cultural issue calls for Bahamians to decide for themselves whether corporal punishment should be administered in schools and under what circumstances.
“We are not going to be sucked into this conversation about corporal punishment unless or until the society decides what it wants to deal with in terms of corporal punishment,” Lloyd said as he contributed to the 2019/2020 budget debate in the House of Assembly.
“So, you ain’t gonna put nothing on us while you half kill your child at home.
“We are going to have a conversation. We are going to bring in our stakeholders. We are going to have a robust discussion about this subject, since it seems now that it needs to be revisited, or should be revisited or is being called upon to be revisited.
“But what I’m also suggesting to you, Mr. Speaker, is that the society needs to have its own conversation about corporal punishment, because… some parents believe it is their inherent right, but as far as United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, no, it is not.”
The debate regarding corporal punishment reignited after an administrator from St. Augustine’s College was arrested and charged over the alleged May 28 beating that reportedly left a seventh grader’s butt cheeks severely bruised. However, the administrator was not arraigned when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt on Thursday as police were still reviewing the case file.
While Lloyd did not comment on that case, he said it is clear that the issue needs to be settled.
“I have received a mountain of calls from parents and teachers, some threatening me: ‘If you dare take away corporal punishment out of the schools, I will write to the prime minister and seek to have you removed,” he continued.
“Oh no, you’re not going to bring us into this. We’re going to have our conversation, absolutely.”
Lloyd noted that corporal punishment is sanctioned by the Ministry of Education currently. However, he noted that it is only to be administered in “grave situations” and only by an administrator in the school.
He said this form of discipline should administered in the presence of another administrator or teacher, but never in the presence of another student.