Rocky school still backing corporal punishment

SURPRISED. That's what clinical psychologist Ash Summers felt when she heard that a Rockhampton school still carried out corporal punishment.

It was reported in southern media this week that Central Queensland Christian College is one of two non-government schools in the state and a handful in the country that still use this form of punishment.

The Bulletin understands that the school has in place a policy which allows a school representative to discipline a child after a thorough process has been gone through, which includes informing the parent, and it is done in the presence of an appropriate adult.

Associate Professor Summers, director of the Wellness Centre at CQUniversity, said while corporal punishment might be effective in getting children to do what adults want in the immediate term, it didn't teach them any new ways to manage their behaviour.

"It can teach children that aggression is an acceptable way of solving problems," Assoc Prof Summers said.

"There is little evidence that corporal punishment improves children's behaviour in the medium to long-term, or has any other positive effects on children."

Corporal punishment was phased out of state schools in Queensland in 1992 and abolished from 1995.


There is a huge amount of evidence that positive approaches are singularly the best and most effective way of improving behaviour:

Boundaries are important; set clear boundaries and rules

Enforce the boundaries

Giving consequences other than physical punishment (such as withdrawing 'screen' time) and being consistent

Clinical Psychologist Ash Summers comments on the use of corporal punishment in schools. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin
Clinical Psychologist Ash Summers comments on the use of corporal punishment in schools. Photo: Chris Ison / The Morning Bulletin Chris Ison

Assoc Prof Summers said countries around the world had outlawed the punishment, recognising that endorsing physical punishment could set a dangerous precedent.

"Some countries that have prohibited it include Albania and Venezuela," she said.

And with the lack of evidence that corporal punishment worked, Assoc Prof Summers said there was a variety of techniques that could be used to manage children's behaviour.

The most powerful of these is rewarding children when they behave well with praise, encouragement, warmth and affection.

"There is a huge amount of evidence that these positive approaches are singularly the best and most effective way of improving behaviour," Assoc Prof Summers said.

"Boundaries are also important, and giving consequences other than physical punishment, such as withdrawing 'screen' time."

Central Queensland Christian College provided the following statement from principal Michael Appleton on the matter.

"The issue you have raised is not a central issue of school life and we have no interest in making a public comment on the issue," Mr Appleton said.

"Our board has expressed the desire that students be protected from any unnecessary exposure in the media and therefore we decline to comment."


Topics:  corporal punishment, education, psychology

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