Early Childhood Commission Discusses Corporal Punishment


The Early Childhood Commission (ECC) is moving to provide Early Childhood practitioners with the strategies to help them promote and sustain positive behaviour without resorting to corporal punishment.
This will be done through the hosting of a conference under the theme, ‘Promoting Positive Behaviour’, June 24 to 26, at the Jamaica Grande Hotel in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
The conference is being held in collaboration with the CHASE Fund, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The focus of the conference is in keeping with the Early Childhood Act and Regulations of 2005 which, among other things, bans corporal punishment in schools. This ban is supported by studies which have shown that disciplinary techniques that rely on corporal punishment and psychological aggression impact negatively on child development.
Speaking at the launch of the conference at the EEC’s offices in downtown Kingston on Friday (June 12), Chairperson, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan said it is clear that an intervention was needed, after Early Childhood practitioners expressed a lack of awareness of effective strategies to promote positive behaviour.
“When we were doing our community meetings, when we were sensitising persons to the new law, they said ‘well now that we can’t beat them, what should we do?” She noted.
She explained that during the conference Early Childhood practitioners will learn how to develop behaviour management plans for schools.
“We just don’t want to manage negative behaviour, we want to learn how to promote positive behaviour,” she said.
Over the course of the conference, Early Childhood practitioners will receive information on 10 areas that impact on children’s behaviour, including corporal punishment, physical therapy, school-based intervention, emotional intelligence and early identification for at risk families and behaviour management.
Seventy-seven early childhood practitioners are expected to attend. Professor Samms-Vaughan said it was expected that those who receive training at the conference, will share the knowledge with others.
Assistant Chief Education Officer, Early Childhood Unit in the Ministry of Education, Evadne Vennor, said the term discipline has come to be equated with direct and aversive punishment. But, she said, she hopes that during the conference, Early Childhood practitioners will learn what discipline really means.
“This should be seen as a positive social education of our children, involving teaching and guiding children to behave and operate in a manner that allows them to manage in the world,” she stated.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Education, Consultant and Advisor in the Ministry, Dr. Rebecca Tortello, disclosed that the Ministry is currently working on developing a ‘tool kit’ of alternatives to corporal punishment for teachers at the primary and secondary school levels.
“It’s much, much easier for a parent or teacher to lose their temper and lash out, than it is to remain calm or to moderate a timeout, or to whisper instead of to shout, or to explain instead of to chastise…what we don’t want to happen is to see our children start shouting at each other, losing their tempers with each other,” she said, as she endorsed the conference.

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