Lloyd: Bahamians need to decide on corporal punishment
Amid reignited debate over corporal punishment in schools, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday the ministry will not be sucked into making that decision while Bahamians continue to beat their children at home.
The matter was once again sparked after a parent posted a photo of a seventh grader’s severely bruised butt cheeks on social media after that child was punished by a school administrator.
That administrator was charged last week with causing harm to a student.
Lloyd, who was careful in addressing the matter during the 2019/2020 budget debate, noted that his ministry is having a conversation about corporal punishment, but insisted that it’s an issue that needs the attention of all sectors of society.
“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,” he said.
“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 particular subject since it seems now that it needs to be revisited or should be revisited or is being called to be revisited.
“…But what I’m also suggesting to you, sir, is that the society needs to have its own conversation about corporal punishment because some parents believe that this is their inherent right, and as far as the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, no it isn’t.”
While physically abusing a child is against the law in The Bahamas, corporal punishment for minors is not.
Section 110 of The Bahamas Penal Code outlines circumstances for the use of force in correcting a child for misconduct, noting that, “a blow or other force, not in any case extending to a wound or grievous harm, may be justified for the purpose of correction”.
Subsection four of that section allows a parent or guardian to delegate to any person, authority for correction of a child or ward, including the power to determine in what cases correction ought to be inflicted; as is the case of a schoolmaster or a person acting as a schoolmaster.
Lloyd noted yesterday that while corporal punishment is sanctioned by the Ministry of Education, it is only to be administered in “grave situations” and only by an administrator in the school. Further, as a policy, this form of discipline should only be administered in the presence of another administrator or teacher and never in the presence of another student, he said.