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New survey shows Barbadians strongly support corporal punishment

A new survey has found that Barbadians are against the banning of corporal punishment.

However, more than half of respondents said this form of punishment was not important in raising or educating children.

The study, which was presented this morning at a one-day Child Protection Symposium for church and faith-based leaders at the Savannah Beach Hotel, was carried out in Barbados between May and June this year, among a sample of 600 people, ages 18 and older.

The study was commissioned by the UNICEF to assess public perception of and attitudes towards the use of corporal punishment in schools and homes in the Eastern Caribbean.

It also assessed public knowledge of child sexual abuse and how to respond to it, as well as the social and other norms that prevent people from reporting such incidents. In addition, the survey assessed attitudes towards the issue of domestic violence.

Although 63 per cent of the people believed that children felt humiliated when corporal punishment was administered to them, 50 per cent of the correspondents felt corporal punishment should not be banned in schools while 77 per cent believed it should not be banned in homes. The report added that in general, 50 per cent supported corporal punishment and 35 per cent did not. Other respondents were undecided.

And while 86 per cent of those surveyed believed parents at home should be the ones allowed to administer corporal punishment to children, 38 per cent believed senior teachers and principals could administer flogging. Twenty-one per cent believed the punishment could be done by any teacher or any adult in authority.

“It is clear that public opinion in Barbados is still hostile to the idea of banning corporal punishment across the board and this will most certainly discourage policymakers from making bold steps towards abolition,” the report noted in its conclusion.

“On the other hand, the majority of respondents, 56 per cent, felt that corporal punishment was not important for raising or educating children. Even more encouragingly, 87 per cent thought that one can discipline children without using corporal punishment. The relevant ministries are therefore advised to adopt an advocacy strategy that targets the aspect of the issue with the greatest appeal within the public domain and to continue stressing the advantages of non-violent discipline practices,” it added.

The survey showed that only 57 per cent of the people interviewed had an understanding of what constituted corporal punishment, while 43 per cent of the people did not.

In relation to child sexual sbuse, 47 per cent of the people believed it was a major problem in Barbados while 31 per cent said it was a minor issue. Six per cent did not see it as a problem.

With regards to reporting child sexual abuse, two per cent said they would keep silent while just over half or 51 per cent indicated that they would report it, and 32 per cent said they would seek help for the child.

When it came to domestic violence 76 per cent of the correspondents thought it was a major problem, 16 per cent thought it was a minor problem and one per cent did not see it as a problem.

About 36 per cent of those surveyed had someone close to them experience domestic violence by a spouse or partner, and 36 per cent stated that the matter was not reported to the authorities.

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