EDUCATION Minister Jeff Lloyd.
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
EDUCATION officials are having a “vigorous conversation” about whether corporal punishment should still be allowed in schools, however there are some who are opposed to phasing out the practice, Education Minister Jeff Lloyd said.
Mr Lloyd, who has gone on record voicing his opposition to the practice, said Bahamian society must determine “how do we properly and effectively parent our children”.
The debate surrounding corporal punishment has been reignited after a shocking video went viral this week, showing children being severely beaten by staff at the Children’s Emergency Hostel.
On Wednesday, a woman who identified herself as an employee of the Hostel called in to the Darold Miller Live show on ZNS saying “if you don’t beat, the children will beat you.”
Mr Lloyd yesterday reiterated his opposition to this practice. He said there is a “misunderstanding” of the Proverbs 13:24 Bible passage – a verse commonly used to support beating children.
“I have gone on record all my life virtually, as being opposed to corporal punishment,” the South Beach MP said. “I am a member of the Catholic faith and we ourselves decry the application of violence in any form at all times. I have thrown out the challenge to the Bahamian society in the House of Assembly.
“Let us have that conversation about it because we seem to believe that you spare the rod, whatever that means, and you spoil the child which is a complete misunderstanding of that scriptural passage from the Old Testament - complete.”
He said the Ministry of Education has a policy on corporal punishment in schools, which is it is to be used in the “absolute last resort”.
When asked why corporal punishment is still carried out in schools if he is opposed to the practice, he said: “That is now a vigorous conversation and discussion here at our Ministry of Education along with our stakeholders right this very minute and I can tell you that there are pockets within the ministry that are opposed to us eliminating (the practice).”
Mr Lloyd spoke about the issue in Parliament in 2019 after there was public debate in the aftermath of a father’s outrage on social media over the beating of his seventh grade son by a St Augustine’s College senior official.
While making his contributions during the budget debate, the minister noted that the government was not going to be “sucked in” to the conversation unless or until society decides what it wants to deal with in terms of corporal punishment.
“So, you ain’t going to put nothing on us while you half kill your child at home,” Mr Lloyd said in the House of Assembly at the time.
Corporal punishment of children is legally permitted in home and schools. In the school system, such punishments should only be carried out by an administrator in the presence of another administrator or teacher.
Yesterday Mr Lloyd “threw that challenge yet again” for a conversation on the issue.
“I threw that challenge yet again, but now you see that video wherever it is from wherever it is has gone viral and outrage. But just on the outrage, let us come have a conversation about the application of corporal punishment wherever it is applied – in the home, in other societal institutions, or even in the school,” he said yesterday.
“Happy to have that conversation and I don’t want to hear no outrage and I don’t want to hear nobody being upset. No let us come to the table, let us have that conversation and let us as a society determine how do we properly and effectively parent our children and is corporal punishment a part of that menu of parenting skills.
“If it is, then we will determine how that’s to be. If it is not then let us be affirmative in our stance on it and let every man stand and be counted on it. Not hide behind no organisations.”