Sat, May 06, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Abuse highlights use of beatings as punishment

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

A couple and their eight-year-old twin sons hold a press conference at the Taipei City Council yesterday to protest against corporal punishment in schools. One of the couple's sons shows the size of the stick his teacher used when beating him in class to punish him for his poor performance.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Eight-year-old Wang Hsiang (王翔) suffers from a slight learning disability, and was constantly beaten and verbally abused by his teacher for his poor performance at school.

After being beaten again at the end of last month for poor writing in his composition assignment, he began to cry at nights and refused to go to school.

"The teacher's beatings have stripped my child of confidence which has made him hate going to school," Wang's mother said yesterday during a press conference at the Taipei City Council. The mother wished to remain anonymous.

The boy, a third grader in Taipei City Hsiu De Elementary School, said his teacher beats him and other classmates mostly for their poor performance.

"My teacher said I am an idiot and stupid, and she hit me with a long stick," he said.

Corporal punishment is forbidden by the Ministry of Education (MOE) with its "Corporal Punishment-Free Policy." However, it is still carried out in elementary and junior high schools across the nation. According to the Humanistic Education Foundation, about 70 percent of students are subjected to corporal punishment.

A survey by the National Teachers' Association last year, however, found that more than 80 percent of parents supported "moderate" corporal punishment, and that 65 percent of them do not support the "Corporal Punishment-Free Policy."

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Ouyang Lung (歐陽龍) said that the definition of "moderate" corporal punishment and parents' ambiguous attitude toward the traditional form of punishment had made it difficult to rid schools of corporal punishment.

"What kind of corporal punishment is appropriate and what is not? The line between the two is too vague, and so students, parents and teachers all feel confused," he said yesterday.

Wang's mother said she had also supported moderate corporal punishment, but the negative impact it had on her child made her realize such forms of punishment should not be encouraged.

The school principal, Ho Chiu-lan (何秋蘭), said the teacher concerned acknowledged hitting the child, and said the school had taken disciplinary action against her.

Meanwhile, Oh urged the ministry to include the ban in the Fundamental Law on Education (教育基本法).

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