Mon, Nov 27, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Ban all physical punishment of kids, expert says

RUBBERY RULES Corporal punishment in schools is currently forbidden by the Ministry of Education, but it is still legal for parents and others to hit their kids

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

A child accompanied by his parents puts on a headset to hear the conference interpreter while attending the International Seminar on Eliminating Corporal Punishment of Children sponsored by the Humanistic Education Foundation at National Taiwan University yesterday.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

There's no such thing as an acceptable form of physical punishment, said Peter Newell, a member of the editorial board of the UN Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children.

Newell presented the findings of the study at the International Seminar on Eliminating Corporal Punishment of Children in Taipei yesterday.

"The study should mark a turning point -- an end to adult justification of violence against children, whether accepted as `tradition' or disguised as `discipline,'" Newell said.

The comprehensive global study was commissioned in 2001 by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and recommended a universal prohibition on all forms of physical punishment, Newell said in a speech yesterday.

Despite the fact that Taiwan was unable to join the 131 nations that ratified the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child, Newell told the audience that he hoped Taiwan "will take a lead in this region" on the issue of corporal punishment.

Two Taiwanese children participated in the study's East Asia and Pacific's Regional Launch.

Corporal punishment in schools is currently forbidden by the Ministry of Education, but corporal punishment of children is not prohibited by law.

"Some people cannot give up on the concept of physical discipline," Children's Bureau Director-General Huang Pi-hsia (黃碧霞) said at the seminar.

"`If you don't beat them, how will they learn?' is an attitude that is all too common," Huang said.

Despite the fact that public attitudes in Taiwan widely condone milder forms of corporal punishment, Newell believes that the government needs to take a leadership role in eradicating the behavior.

"There needs to be a clear statement in the criminal law on assault to the effect that the law applies equally to assaults on children, whether by parents, other carers, teachers or anyone else," Newell said.

The two-day seminar is sponsored by the Humanistic Education Foundation.

It continues today with participants from around the world.

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