Cambodge Soir Hebdo
Opponents of corporal punishment have an uphill fight in Cambodia, said Ung Chansophea. The nongovernmental group Plan Cambodia has been trying to recruit principals into its “Child-Friendly Schools” program for three years, but progress has been slow. Most teachers here routinely spank wayward children on their bottoms or hands. Activists argue that abuse in the schools is partly responsible for Cambodia’s high dropout rate, and in fact, in the few schools that have given up beatings, attendance has improved. But most teachers resist any suggestion that violence is counterproductive. “My students only do their homework because they know if they neglect it, they will be beaten,” says one teacher. “Banning beatings would make our work more difficult.” Even some of the children seem to agree. Sreyneath, a 12-year-old girl, says that her teacher often “gives spankings, pulls hair, and slaps hands,” but is “not a violent” person. “I think she does everything to help us,” she says. As for the parents, they will allow teachers any license. They were brought up on the old Cambodian proverb that goes: “When I entrust my child to a teacher, all I ask is to get back the eyes, skin, and bones.” Such attitudes will “take time to evolve.”
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