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South African Journal of Education

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Corporal punishment in South African schools : a neglected explanation for its Existence

R. Morrell

Abstract


The South African education system historically has used corporal punishment to maintain discipline. Criticism of its effects led, in 1996, to the banning of this form of punishment. But this legislative intervention did not end the use of corporal punishment in schools. This article offers an explanation for the ongoing use of corporal punishment. It is based on a survey of 16 Durban schools in September and October 1998. Corporal punishment has effectively disappeared from middle-class, formerly white, schools, but is still relatively common in township schools. Reasons for the persistent and illegal use of corporal punishment include the absence of alternatives, the legacy of itarian education practices and the belief that corporal punishment is necessary for orderly education to take place. A neglected explanation is that corporal punishment persists because parents use it in the home and support its use in school. There is a tension between the prohibition of corporal punishment in schools and the increase in parent involvement in the affairs of schools.


(South African Journal of Education: 2001 21(4): 292-299)



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