Corporal Punishhment

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TO PUNISH OR DISCIPLINE? TEACHERS’ ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE
ABOLITION OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

Loretta Cicognani

A research report submitted to the School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Education (Educational Psychology).

Johannesburg 2004

I

ABSTRACT
In the last decade, corporal punishment in South African schools was banned. This is in keeping with international trends of recognising of the rights of the child and the South African Constitution. Despite the legal ban, newspapers and limited research reveal that corporal punishment practices are sill occurring in schools. Government has made efforts to curb the continuing use of corporal punishment. This research explores teachers’ attitudes towards the ban of corporal punishment as well as the alternate discipline strategies teachers are using to discipline their learners. The research methods adopted were quantitative questionnaires and qualitative written responses. Results of this study suggest that teachers still view corporal punishment as having a place in education. Teachers are concerned amongst others about their personal safety and feel the administering of corporal punishment will ensure their safety. Teachers’ do report that they have found alternatives that do work, however, they still feel that the training that is provided is not able to meet their needs in the classroom situation.

KEY WORDS
Corporal punishment; children, teachers; attitudes; alternatives; South Africa; Social Learning theory; learners; effects

II

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I wish to acknowledge the following people for their invaluable contribution to this study: My father, Amedeo Cicognani and sister, Dalida Cicognani for their support and encouragement.
To Lesley Rosenthal for her patience and kindness.
Rashad Bagus my research supervisor for his valued insight in the compiling of this research report.
Salim Vally for his assistance in locating information.
To the teachers (especially Ari Levin and Frikkie Korf) who gave of their time and knowledge.

III

DECLARATION
I hereby declare that this research report is my own unaided work. It is being submitted for the degree of Master of Education (Educational Psychology) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. It has not been submitted for any degree or examination at any other university.

Loretta Cicognani

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION

1

CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW

3

1. Corporal punishment and its effects

3

a) Defining corporal punishment

3

b) The effects of corporal punishment

4

2. The movement to ban corporal punishment

8

a) The international movement to ban corporal punishment

8

b) The ban on corporal punishment in South African schools

10

c) Teachers attitudes towards the ban of corporal punishment

13

d) Conclusion

16

CHAPTER 2: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

17

CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODS AND RESULTS

21

1. Research methods

21

a) Sample selection

21

b) Procedures

21

c) Measures

21

d) Data

23

2. Quantitative Results

23

a) Biographical data

23

b) Teachers responses favouring the use of corporal punishment

25

c) Teachers responses against corporal punishment

28

d) Alternate discipline strategies

31

e) Teachers attitudes towards the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools

32

V

3. Qualitative Results

32

CHAPTER 4: Discussion

35

CONCLUSION

38

REFERENCES

40

APPENDICES
Appendix A

45

Appendix B

53

Appendix C

54

VI

INTRODUCTION
As recently as 4th June 2004, an article in This Day reported that a child had tragically died as a consequence of the physical complications resulting from the administration of corporal punishment. The article stated that it was common knowledge that the principal of...
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