CUTTING THE CANE: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE STRUGGLE TO BANISH CORPORAL PUNISHMENT FROM SCHOOLS IN BRITAIN AND SOUTH AFRICA (PART 1)
Keywords:corporal punishment, evolution, demise, history, social meanings, historical importance, social control
For centuries corporal punishment was used as a method for disciplining school children in Britain. Britain was one of the last countries in the European Union to abolish this form of punishment in its schools, and did so only after a long and bitter struggle waged in parliament, on the streets, and in various courts of law. This article traces the manner in which this practice became deeply entrenched in the British way of life, as well as the long battle to dislodge it. The focus then shifts to the evolution and eventual demise of this form of punishment in South African schools. During the long years of British rule in South Africa, British attitudes towards the corporal punishment of school children profoundly influenced those responsible for education in this African country. However, the attachment of South African educational authorities, educators, and parents to corporal punishment cannot be explained simply by reference to the influence of British educational values, and the article seeks to take account of the general history of corporal punishment in the African context. This history is entwined with the history of colonialism on the continent, and the article explores the unique social meanings attached to this form of punishment in the African context, as well as its historical importance as a means of social control. The article is divided into two parts. In part one of the article, the evolution and eventual demise of corporal punishment in British schools is traced, followed by a brief general overview of corporal punishment in the African context, as well as a short discussion of the use and eventual abolition of this form of punishment in South African schools. In part two of the article, the continued use of corporal punishment in South African schools, even after this form of punishment was legally abolished following the end of apartheid, is examined in detail.
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