Flogging outlawed for criminal offences, but still legal in schools
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves
News
January 7, 2020
Flogging outlawed for criminal offences, but still legal in schools

While the new Child Justice Act has done away with corporal punishment, a child can still be flogged within the school system.

The Child Justice Act was successfully passed in Parliament on December 27 and under this legislation, the age of criminal responsibility was increased from 8 years old to 12 years old.

And neither corporal punishment nor a life imprisonment sentence can be imposed on a child.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in his presentation on December 27, referred to “a conundrum” where the law relating to criminal offences committed by a child — someone under the age of 16 — says that the child cannot be flogged.

“But a child in school who injures another child, where … nobody intends in school or none of the parents intend to bring any police case, but a principal can flog that child . A teacher assigned by principal can flog that child,” he said.

Gonsalves said that during a consultation for this country’s new Education Act earlier in the government administration, the entire leadership of the Teachers Union did not support the suggestion to do away with floggings in schools.

“… Even though it was regulated flogging in the schools, only principal or deputy principal can do it and a male teacher can’t flog a female student and the like, and the evidence doesn’t show that flogging the child necessarily brings about any improvement in the child’s behaviour, the teachers…wanted flogging,” the prime minister said.

He also said: “So we have to be very careful that when we are passing progressive legislation, we do it in a manner — while we are going forward in a very progressive way because the old way hasn’t worked. We have to find better ways, some newer ways…”

And Gonsalves said that this matter is one that must be discussed among “the minister of education, the people at the education ministry and those at social welfare”.