By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER a police officer allegedly beat several Bimini Primary School students, Education Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin said “the time has come” for a conversation about corporal punishment in schools.
She said the Bimini incident is “beyond most unfortunate” and is something officials regret has happened in a school. She explained that there are official protocols about how corporal punishment should be administered.
“When a parent sends a child to the school, the parent has an expectation that if that is to occur, that it occurs within strict adherence to that manual. I think the time has come that we must discuss this issue of corporal punishment even in that way in our schools. But that’s a conversation that is later than this one. This is an incident that has happened.
“I think the issue here at hand (is that) the protocols are very clear about how discipline is administered and so it is being reviewed as we speak but certainly the principal is no longer there. I’m told the police officer was transferred and the counselling has begun with these children. I consider it beyond most unfortunate and it is something that we truly regret has happened in our schools and in particular a primary school.”
Mrs Hanna-Martin added: “We’re hoping that out of this the message will go out and it’s clear that if you seek to execute any form of corporal punishment, it (is) done (in) strict compliance and that strict compliance only allows senior administrators to administer and I think it also says the manner in which. So the way in which it was reported that happened in that school is completely outside of what was authorised.”
On Friday, the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training said in a Facebook post that the Ministry of National Security had been requested to investigate the alleged actions of the officer, noting it had received a report of an incident at the school “resulting in the purported discipline of several boys at the school allegedly by a police officer.”
National Security Minister Wayne Munroe said on Tuesday the police will investigate the incident if there is a report of a criminal offence.
Tanishka Sands, identified as the mother of one of the students, spoke to ZNS’ Northern Edition about the incident.
“The principal, she didn’t answer. I called a teacher and she was like ‘Ok, he needed it’. And the principal called back after I sent her the picture with the bruises. She called back and she was the same way. Like, ‘Oh, they got spanking because we said numerous times about the situation and nothing changed.’ So she called the police.”
She claimed the bruise on her child was so severe that it looked black and purple. Ms Sands recalled that they went to the clinic and it was suggested he be sent to Nassau to get checked. The newscast reported the woman’s son was too traumatised to return to school.
Yesterday, Mrs Hanna- Martin said “we’ll wait to see how this transpires” but “we have to work every day with the children”.
The education minister has been vocal about her position on the controversial topic of corporal punishment. Giving her personal view in March 2022, Mrs Hanna-Martin said she does not see where using violence on children is going to help any sort of circumstance or situation.
The minister added that she is not an advocate of violence in any shape or form and certainly not against young persons.
“I think we have to help our children to grow up healthy, respectful, strong, courageous,” she had said earlier. “I support discipline and even punishment in terms of that component of discipline. But I do not personally support the use of violence against young people to coerce conduct or behaviour.”
mandela 3 days, 21 hours ago
If you ask the policeman at the center of this beating if he punishes his kids the same way, I am sure the answer will be no, yet he feels that he can punish other people's children and take out the frustration that he has for his wife and kids on the students.
IslandWarrior 3 days, 8 hours ago
It is unacceptable that our young people have to endure abuse at home (in many cases) and then face further abuse at school in the form of corporal punishment. This can create significant psychological problems for students and hinder their ability to learn.
I applaud Education Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin for her stance against violence in any form, including corporal punishment, and her willingness to review the protocols around discipline in schools. The Ministry of Education must take swift action to ensure that students are safe and protected from harm while at school.
However, addressing the issue of corporal punishment is only one aspect of creating a safe and supportive learning environment for all students. A 'healthy-hot' school breakfast and lunch program can help alleviate some of the stress faced by students dealing with challenges at home who may struggle with hunger and malnutrition. By providing students with 'healthy-hot' meals, schools can support their physical and mental well-being, enabling them to focus on their education and reach their full potential.
I urge the Ministry of Education to prioritize the implementation of a 'healthy-hot' school breakfast and lunch program to support the most vulnerable students in our communities.
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