Bring back the strap? It just might happen if this government adviser has his way.

Should we bring back the strap?

Are you old enough to remember the look of those raised red welts?

On the back of the hand? Or the leg?

The long black leather strap which caused the pain?

All brought on – quite legally and properly- by the hand of the school principal.

Reports out today indicate that if the Abbott government’s Education Adviser Kevin Donnelly had his way, the strap would be brought back.

Speaking on Fairfax Radio last night, the head of the Abbott government’s curriculum review backed calls for corporal punishment to be reinstated across Australian schools.

Dr Donnelly revealed his views in response to questions about a report out yesterday on school suspensions, which revealed that in NSW, students are being suspended at record rates. Over 18000 NSW were students suspended in 2012, the report shows  -that’s 1300 more than in 2011.

Surprisingly, the solution for this Federal government adviser is simple – better discipline. The form he favours, though, has surprised many.

The exchange went like this:

Fairfax Radio host Justin Smith asked Dr Donnelly: “What would you, as you’ve been involved with this for so long, describe as the best punishment you can come across even if it is one that has gone away?”

“I’m not alluding to the strap here. I don’t think you would ever resort to that. You would never advocate bringing that back surely?”

Dr Donnelly responded: “Well… I grew up in Broadmeadows, a housing commission estate in Melbourne, and we had a Scottish phys-ed teacher.”

“Whenever there were any discipline problems he would actually take the boy behind the shed and say, ‘We can either talk about this or you can throw the first punch’,” Dr Donnelly said.

Kevin Donnelly says that tine out does not work as discipline.

“That teacher would probably lose his job now but it was very effective. He only had to do it once and the kids were pretty well behaved for the rest of the year,” he said.

“Those days are gone.”

What he added next was shocking: He said corporal punishment had, in his experience, been the most effective form of punishment.

He also had no issue with bringing back methods such as the strap, he told Fairfax Radio.


“If the school community is in favour of it then I have got no problem if it’s done properly,” he said.

“There are one or two schools around Australia that I know where it actually is approved of, and they do do it.”

He said time-out methods of punishment did not work as students just used it to avoid doing work– and that suspension should be a “last resort”.

In fact students loved time-out “because they could get out of classwork. They could just relax and meditate for a while. That obviously didn’t work,” he added.

“I think it’s very important that the classroom doesn’t suffer because of disruptive or badly-behaved students,” he said.

In 2007, then-Health Minister Tony Abbott sparked debate about bringing back the cane or strap to schools after telling the Today Show there was a case for them.

“A lot of people think that sometimes you’ve just got to be able to give a short, sharp shock,” he said.

“(I)t may well be that sometimes the only language that some kids understand is that kind of language”.

According to The Age, child protection experts branded Mr Abbott’s ideas “dangerous” and “draconian,” arguing that using violence would not teach children violence was wrong.

How should students be punished?

Mr Abbott later distanced himself from the remarks.

In Australia, New South Wales, the ACT, Tasmania and Victoria are the only states where legislation clearly bans corporal punishment in both government and non-government schools.

The punishment was banned in the early 1990s in those states and territories.

In Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia corporal punishment is banned in government schools under ministerial guidelines or local educational policy, but remains lawful in private schools.

In the Northern Territory, there is currently no legal prohibition for any schools, government or private.

As for the future of this legislation? Well, that now is under a shadow.

So what do you think? Is he right? Should we bring back corporal punishment as a way to control unruly students?

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