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Beating Students with Canes

(Note: All photos for this article were obtained by walking to the closest school today and saying, “I’m an American teacher and have never seen a punishment cane. Can you show me how it works?” It may seem bizarre to be smiling in photos about corporal punishment, but here, the whole affair is discussed with levity.)

“How many of you were beaten with canes by your teachers TODAY?” I asked the YCC students as a logical follow-up to our class discussion on corporal punishment in Ghana.

Ten hands shot up.

What?! I gasped. These were the loveliest, most well-behaved students on earth! “Why did your teacher cane you?” I asked, aghast.

They went around the circle and shared.

“I was late to class.”

“I was talking when the teacher was talking.”

“I didn’t bring my homework.”

WOW.

“Where do they hit you when you get caned?” I pried.

“Oh anywhere,” said Esteria, smiling shyly, “your back, your arms, your… buttocks.” Everyone giggled.

“So what do you think of this practice?” I asked. This was fascinating.

“Well, it’s good and bad,” replied Reuben. “It’s good, because it really teaches you a lesson, and it keeps the class well-behaved. It’s bad because sometimes you are crying so hard afterwards that you cannot concentrate on the lesson.”

For all the outcry this may cause in America, I have to admit: I see both sides of this issue.

In my years teaching in corporal punishment-free Boston, I’ve watched an awful lot of detentions and suspensions and calls home be utterly ineffective.

And the truth remains: I have never worked with such kind and well-behaved students in my life as I have this month in Ghana.

“The government of Ghana is starting to phase out caning,” explained YCC Administrator, Oliver. “Now there are other physical punishments like forced exercise, or making a child squat on the ground while crossing his arms and holding his ears for as long as the teacher says.”

Today as we were visiting the local school, one student was kind enough to demonstrate this punishment, pictured, right.

But the stark differences with American schools don’t stop here. In Ghana, there is also the concept of a “Student Prefect.” Apparently, one student is assigned the role of “Prefect,” and it is his or her job to write down the names of all of the chatty or disobedient children in each class. At the end of each day, the Prefect gives this list to an administrator, and the administrator beats these children with a cane.

Imagine being that Prefect!

“Sometimes the Prefect gets beat up on the way home by people he has reported,” admitted one student today. “Or sometimes he abuses his power and will put the name of his enemies as disobedient and his friends as well-behaved.”

WOW.

“Make sure to put some of these details in your penpal letters to America,” I directed my YCC class, chuckling and shaking my head. “Your American friends will be shocked.”

“Really?” asked one girl incredulously. It’s hard sometimes to believe that other parts of the world are as different as they are.

“Really.”

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S.

Thursday 5th of July 2018

My 16 year old daughter is on a service trip in Ghana. She is witnessing 2 and 3 year old children being caned. Hit in the head and all over the body until they cry. They are also force fed by a teacher shoving a spoon of baby food in their mouth while they cry and gag. Is this how all primary education begins in Ghana? No wonder the students find it so normal but there is no "good" side to this type of abuse. It is as wrong as it would be for someone to whip you in the head with a stick if you made an error. Human rights belong to everyone, including children. Thank goodness it is being phased out, the sooner, the better.

Odokai

Saturday 7th of July 2018

Corporal punishment is not being phased out in Ghana!Although there are rules as to its application,they aren't observed.Some parents cane their children for not "doing well"in school;for poor grades!So for a long time to come,corporal punushment will be the norm here!There is some psycholigical issue here-the teachers enjoy using this method of punishment-hearing kids crying,pleading.A child who refuses to cry gets more lashes-oh stubborn child!

Lillie

Saturday 7th of July 2018

Thank you for sharing this. Let's hope things are shifting for the better!

Michelle

Saturday 7th of October 2017

Well, I do also have canned by my teacher. Lol. I am a student. But I will just have to say something. Yeah, it's good and bad. But it's good if only canned for 1 or 2 times. Lol. My friend was canned 5 or 6 times and she never came to that class after all.

Lillie

Saturday 7th of October 2017

Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that! Thank you for sharing this experience.

DaisyStar

Tuesday 23rd of May 2017

What do you mean by well behaved children ... is it similar to well behaved wives? Docile people who do as their told, because a bit of spirit and freedom cannot be enjoyed? Countries that promote the abuse of children have a culture of violence and oppression, all the way from the government to the factories, plantations, mines, state schools, and home. It is wrong. It is always wrong to hurt children. Nothing, nothing is improved by hurting children.

What do teachers teach at school? I am a teacher, my specialty is with difficult children. I have worked with children who have endured terrible abuse, crawled under desks in dark rooms with broken hearts, and I, barely edging a little closer, try to encourage a sobbing, screaming, trembling child - just to breathe.

The poor little kids. I have gazed into the soulful eyes of a child, with the light sparkling across perfect cheeks, and been awed by that beauty.

What consequence does violence to children have? Yes, they behave as the superiors demand, but is that good? Now look at their society. How do the adults fare? How do they treat prisoners and people with disabilities?

You might find it interesting to review Ghana's Human Rights report. In addition to the violence that you've described, you'll find genital mutilation of female children in the North and the extermination of children with disabilities.

I hope that Ghana's people continue to improve, they are making good progress in their laws. It just takes a few rebellious hearts, a few free thinkers, to question the establishment, and make it better.

What do teachers teach? Obedience? Not me. Social norms? Hope not. Critical thinking? Maybe. Poetry? Absolutely. 100% passionate, warm rain on the desert sage, storm clouds racing through blue skies joy.

Clement O.

Wednesday 19th of October 2016

In my own opinion, caning is good, if properly and wisely used. The problem with many teachers as it regards the use of cane is that they tend to go to go to the extreme. Some who are ruled by their temperament flog out of anger and hatred. Such would cane a child until visible injuries appear all over the child's body.

A teacher in my school where I teach (Anambra State, Nigeria), was fired today for caning a child until red sores were all over his back. All the teachers were called to see this wicked act of the teacher, and were warned to desist from such a treatment. What was the child's offence? He lost one of his note books.

To me, some teachers are not supposed to be in the school. Most teachers like that didn't pass through any teacher-training courses. They just resorted to teaching because no other job was within their reach.

I would have suggested that caning by teachers be stopped completely, but there are some students who would not obey instructions until u raise a cane. So, caning should be allowed, but a control should be placed on the use of it. The school management should control its use to avoid abusing it

As a professional teacher by God's making, I use cane wisely, that's when it's necessary. I flog to correct and I do so with love and care. And my pupils would understand and take corrections Some teachers flog unnecessarily......u fail a thing, they flog u. u fail to answer a question, they flog u. U chat, they flog u. U fail to finish ur assignment, they flog u. The issue is not that they flog, but flog without mercy as if they are flogging animals! Some teachers just enjoy flogging their. In my present school, in one of Basic 6 classes, they pupils receive countless strokes of cane before the school is over for the day.

That is abusive! These children deserve some respect please! They are not animals but future great men and women in the making.

Because it's not every teacher is in control of their temperament and emotions, either caning is stooped completely, or it should be regulated by the management of the school. Thank u.

Derek T

Wednesday 18th of November 2015

Wow! That's really weird that the teacher abuses the students with a cane. Yes it could teach them a lesson, but why can't you just give them a lecture or a detention? I believe physically abusing students isn't cool whatsoever.

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