Prior to sharing his intentions of seeking an end to corporal punishment in schools and state entities, the Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness is looking to take the act a little further by having it outlawed for homes as well. Holness said it was time the Parliament spoke on the issue of ending corporal punishment, also widely called flogging, across the island.
Based on a recent UNICEF report, ‘A Familiar Face: Violence in the Lives of Children and Adolescents’, Holness’ made comments in Parliament on Tuesday this week noting that eight in ten Jamaican children in the 2 to 14 age group experience violence as a form of discipline.
“While it is not a consensus across the aisle or even a consensus within the political parties about banning corporal punishment totally in the country, I wish to declare that I am totally against corporal punishment,” he said, adding that that corporal punishment does not align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the United Nations Development Programme. “It is a matter that we would have to debate here, but I think the time has come. With such a report, with our commitment to the SDGs, I don’t see how we can maintain this aspect of our culture and claim that we want to advance as a modern, civilized society.”
The Prime Minister also added that the outlawing of corporal punishment would be a “forward-leaning step” towards taking a stand against violence generally and it would send a powerful message about the State respecting the inviolability of the person, whether child or adult.
The announcement by Holness to amend the Education Act to prohibit corporal punishment in schools was made during his contribution to the Budget debate earlier this year. His commitment to ban corporal punishment in all government institutions was reiterated during his address to Parliament yesterday.