More than 100 fifth-grade students were punished by kneeling or standing for up to one minute at 5am during a graduation camp activity in Kaohsiung on Tuesday, prompting an investigation from school authorities, which yesterday said that corporal punishment to discipline children would not be condoned.
A parent reported that her daughter attended the graduation activity at a camp site in Kaohsiung last week, but because there were students making noise early in the morning, an activity instructor nicknamed Hsiao-chieh (小傑) woke everyone up and punished them by forcing them to kneel or stand.
The parent asked why an organizer was allowed to impose corporal punishment on children.
Photo courtesy of a reader
The school commissioned a travel agency to organize the graduation camping activities for fifth graders at the campsite on Monday and Tuesday last week, the elementary school’s acting principal, surnamed Chang (張), said.
Following the report, the school has begun an investigation.
The students were meant to wake up at 6:30am on Tuesday, but some students who had already woken up were making loud noises at 5am, Chang said, adding that although an instructor had asked them to be quiet, the situation did not improve.
One of the instructors allegedly lost his temper and shouted at the students, then woke everyone up for collective punishment, Chang said, adding that the punishment included kneeling for one minute while curse words were shouted at them.
There were 376 students at the graduation camp, and the primary investigation found that at least one-third of them had been affected, including some who had been sleeping, but were called upon to be punished, Chang said.
Some students said they kneeled for one minute, while others said they kneeled for 30 seconds, and one student said he kneeled for only one second as he had just returned from the restroom.
The vice president of the contracted travel agency, surnamed Lin (林), said the company has no excuse and would face the problem, adding that they are regretful and apologize.
Hsiao-chieh admitted that he lost control of his emotions and imposed improper discipline on the students, Lin said.
The school said it has apologized to some parents in person and would arrange another meeting for negotiations among class representatives, the parents’ association, the school administration and the event organizer.
The school would not allow contractors to impose improper discipline on students during activities, it would improve its understanding of the training required of contractors’ activity instructors and it would conduct a thorough review of the event, Lin said.
The Kaohsiung Education Bureau said after receiving a report on the case that it has instructed the school to make caring for the students and their rights a first priority, to provide consultations and review its management on field trips.
The contractor has been asked to explain the situation and take responsibility for it, it added.
Improper discipline of children is strictly prohibited, the bureau said, adding that it would thoroughly investigate the case and hold the contractor accountable.
As stipulated by the Children and Youth Welfare Act (兒童及少年福利法), students must be able to learn safely in all learning environments, and their rights to learning, education, physical autonomy and personal development must be protected.
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