The Australian March 29, 2009
THE cane is still being wielded at some Queensland schools where parents sign legal waivers to give teachers the power to hit their children. The corporal punishment option is offered at some of the state’s fastest-growing independent schools as part of their strict behaviour management strategies. Religious beliefs are used to justify discipline at some schools. With more than 55,000 suspensions handed out at state schools last financial year – a jump of more than 20 per cent in two years – Independent Schools Queensland has reported growing support for private schools catering for the “disengaged and at-risk” school sector.
Bundaberg Christian College principal Mark Bensley said corporal punishment had become a drawcard for some parents because of a “lack of boundaries” at other schools. “A growing number of parents come to our school and say the school got their attention because it uses the paddle,” Mr Bensley said. “If they choose to not sign it (the waiver), they are not refused enrolment. But a very significant majority of parents sign because they like that we understand the need for boundaries, fairness and consistency.” Mr Bensley said the plastic paddle – shaped like a table-tennis bat – was a “last resort” when suspensions, detentions and warnings had failed. The school, which has 600 students in Prep to Year 12, gave the paddle 10 times last year and seven times in 2007, he said.