Parents of a sixth-grade student in Greater Tainan have recently pressed charges against a day-care center’s classroom director for allegedly caning their child with about 200 lashes.
The student, nicknamed “Siao-an” (小安), said he was punished on Saturday last week by the classroom director, surnamed Chang (張), for failing an English test with a score of 35. The day-care center had set the pass mark at 85.
The sixth-grader, who said Chang would cane students to punish them, had promised to give out two lashes for each mark below 85. The student told police that he failed the test twice, so he received about 190 lashes, resulting in bloody bruises on his buttocks and thighs.
Chang denied giving the student 190 lashes of the cane, saying he had only caned him between 30 and 40 lashes.
Chang said Siao-an is a difficult student who often talks back and yells at teachers, adding that he has been caught lying on several occasions. The teacher added that Siao-an’s mother had signed an agreement with the day-care center to allow corporal punishment.
On Saturday last week, Chang said he believed Siao-an had lied when he told him that he had forgotten to ask his mother to sign a report card issued the previous day. Because he felt the student was lying, Chang gave Siao-an five or six lashes of the cane. That afternoon, after an English test, he caned the student again for getting poor marks, adding that he punished Siao-an again with more lashes after he kept forgetting basic instructions in a remedial English class.
Chang said Siao-an scored 75 after taking the English make-up test for the seventh time, which he considered a good improvement.
“Three days after that, I was surprised the student’s mother pressed charges against me [over the corporal punishment],” Chang said.
Acknowledging that he might have been too heavy-handed, Chang apologized, saying: “I will never use corporal punishment against students again.”
Siao-an’s mother said she had given consent to the day-care center to use limited corporal punishment against her son, but added: “I never expected them to punish [Siao-an] so severely and inflict such serious injuries.”
She insisted on filing a lawsuit against the classroom director.
Commenting on the case, an education expert said that when students misbehave, teachers often overreact because they want their classes to do well. Teachers should not let their emotions get the better of them, the expert said, adding that it is better to temporarily step out of a classroom or request assistance from other school administrators.
A 2006 amendment to the Basic Education Act (教育基本法) made Taiwan the 109th country in the world to prohibit corporal punishment. However, it is still common in schools nationwide, with a survey conducted by the Humanistic Education Foundation last year suggesting that nearly 30 percent of junior high and 20 percent of elementary school students have experienced corporal punishment.