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Video of alleged student beating sparks debate on corporal punishment

By Dana Al Emam - Dec 29,2014 - Last updated at Dec 29,2014

AMMAN — A recently published video of a school principal hitting a group of students has stirred a debate among Jordanians on whether physical punishment is effective in curbing violations at schools.

The video, published by local media outlets, showed the principal of a public elementary school in Ruseifa hitting seven students with a stick and slapping them in front of teachers and other pupils, with no explanation given on why they were hit.

Viewers of the video, which garnered some 4,000 views on news website Khaberni’s YouTube channel, were divided in their opinions on the incident.

Nour Ibrahim wrote that punishment “should never be physical” as it causes “severe” psychological consequences, and called for educating teachers on suitable ways in dealing with misbehaving students.

In another comment posted on Khaberni’s Facebook page, Ashraf Dalou said teachers who beat students should receive “intense punishment” because physical violence against students causes behavioural deviations and encourages them to drop out of school.

“Parents do not send their children to schools to be humiliated,” he added.  

For Nidal Salous, students who break the rules should be punished but not as severely as in the incident depicted in the video.

Salous urged teachers and principals to take the age of students into consideration, as the ones punished in the video are “young children”.

On the other hand, Ameen Rawashdeh defended the principal’s actions, saying he had nothing personal against the students, and only hit them to teach them how to “behave” because “their parents didn’t.”

Mary Tawfiq, a former teacher, agreed.

Noting that physical punishment adds to the teacher’s respect among students, she said some students “deserve to be hit”.

Commenting on the incident, Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) Spokesperson Ayman Okour said the association urges educators to avoid beating pupils, as it weakens students’ abidance by the rules and regulations.

“Such incidents happen on a daily basis without being reported,” he said, calling for building bridges of communication and dialogue between teachers and principals on one side, and parents and the local community on the other.

Okour highlighted the role of school disciplinary councils in deciding on suitable punishments for students who violate regulations. The members of these councils include the principal, teachers, parents and students.  

“Although these councils have very good regulations, they are often dysfunctional due to the interference of outside authorities,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone, adding that such interference leads students to believe they can evade punishment if their families are well connected.

Okour stressed the need for spreading awareness among educators and students, urging teachers to use punishment sanctioned by regulations as the last resort.

Education Minister Mohammad Thneibat formed a committee on Sunday to investigate the incident and delegated the Ruseifa education department director to relieve the school principal of his monitoring assignment at the General Secondary Certificate Examination winter session currently under way.

Education Ministry Spokesperson Walid Jallad told The Jordan Times on Monday that the committee is still looking into the issue, adding that the ministry will not be lenient with such practices and “does not approve of such acts in schools”.

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