The Effects of Abolishing Corporal Punishment on Learner Behaviour in South African High Schools
AbstractCorporal punishment is a form of disciplinary measure that uses physical force with the intention of causing a learner to experience pain but not injury for reasons of correcting his or her behaviour. Section 10 of the South African Schools Act (84 of 1996), however, prohibits all forms of corporal punishment in schools (RSA, 1996). Despite this ban, many schools continue to practise it widely. Media reports suggest that students in many schools, especially rural schools, display arrogance, violence, rudeness, truancy and other types of misconduct. In the light of above and with the implications of the implementation of the Schools Act in mind, it was investigated whether the South African Government’s decision to abolish physical punishment was viable and whether it had any impact on student conduct. A sample was drawn of 400 learners and 100 teachers from 10 high schools in an educational region of the North West Province of South Africa. In contrast to the thrust of the theoretical investigation that revealed that the abolition of corporal punishment would probably lead to an increase in poor behaviour, the empirical investigation, particularly the application of the chi-squared test, indicated no positive relationship between the abolition of corporal punishment and increase in misconduct. The study recommends that alternative forms of disciplinary measures are necessary to minimise misdemeanours among learners.
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