Cases of student indiscipline have elicited calls to reintroduce caning as punishment in schools. When the cane was in use the caner, like Caesar’s wife, was beyond reproach. So how upright is the society calling for its return? How about the teachers to administer it?
Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of a number of hits — known as strokes — with a cane, generally applied to the offender’s bare or clothed backside or on the palm. It has been outlawed in Kenya since April 2001 as a matter of policy.
Kenya is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), a legally binding international agreement setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of race, religion or abilities.
Article 19 requires that children be protected from physical and mental violence, neglect, sexual abuse and exploitation while in the care of their parent or anyone else.
We’re faced with a generation hardened by life and lack of care. With modern education and religion, coupled with rural-urban migration, the co-operation between households and the kinship system that obligated members to socially care for all children communally as their ‘property’ is no more.
We lack the moral ground to stand on while calling for the return of the cane since we’re as deficient as the learners we condemn. We want to cane our children? Who will cane us for our permissiveness? Who will cane our media who feed our young ones with violence? Who will cane clergy who receive bloodstained money as tithe and sanitise it?
Who will cane road engineers who build killer substandard roads? Architects who build houses that sag and break? The doctors? The politicians? The absent parents? The adults, who are a bad example?
Interestingly, Singapore’s government opines that the UNCRC does not prohibit “the judicious application of corporal punishment in the best interest of the child”. Some parents, therefore, use a small cane to punish their wayward children.