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11-year-old caned severely on thigh instead of buttocks – did school break rules?

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A photo of an 11-year-old boy sporting a striking red cane mark on his thigh has been circulating online. The boy, a Primary 5 pupil at Horizon Primary School, suffered the lash due to a school caning where he was reportedly caned once on the thigh by his Vice-Principal on 15 Aug for misbehaving.

The boy’s aunt wrote in to STOMP, adding that the boy’s parents feel the caning was severe:

“He is a hyperactive kid (but not ADHD) and also apparently brought poker cards to school. The vice-principal did the caning in his office.”

Sharing a photo of the angry welt on the boy’s thigh, accompanied with blue-black bruising around the mark, the boy’s aunt said that her sister and brother-in-law – the boy’s parents – were informed about the caning and signed an acknowledgment form but did not anticipate how severe the marks would be:

“We all thought the caning would be on the buttocks, but it was on my nephew’s thigh. We didn’t expect the scar that he is now left with.
“After the caning, he was unable to sit for a week and had a phobia of returning to school. He even thought of changing schools.”

She added that her nephew is back at school, despite feeling traumatised.

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A spokesman for Horizon Primary School defended the caning in a statement:

“One of our students was counselled and caned in accordance with the school rules so that he would understand the consequences of his actions.
“We have been working with his family to help the student learn. He has resumed learning actively in school.”

Regardless of whether the caning was meted out in accordance to the school’s rules, it actually goes against the Education (Schools) Regulations Act, which outlines that caning or corporal punishment – which only applies to boy pupils – can only be meted out in a very specific, limited way:

88.— (2) The corporal punishment of boy pupils shall be administered with a light cane on the palms of the hands or on the buttocks over the clothing. No other form of corporal punishment shall be administered to boy pupils.

Experts have also noted that “corporal punishment can have a lasting psychological impact on the child.”

The 11-year-old’s parents have indicated that they would like to pursue the matter further while the school declined to comment on the family’s concerns.

It is unclear whether the Ministry of Education will take action against Horizon Primary School for violating the restrictions for caning as per the Education (Schools) Regulation Act.

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