Should bully be caned?

Should bully be caned?
PHOTO: The Straits Times


Retired principal Harphal Singh, 58, does not believe in caning.

He banned the form of punishment at the different schools where he was principal.

He said: "My responsibility is keeping the students and school safe. I don't believe in violence so I don't cane. So when a student misbehaved, he would be sent to the my office and his parents called in to take him home immediately...

"Either you work with me or you have no place in my school."

And Mr Singh would allow the offender to return to school only after he and his parent returned to apologise for his behaviour.

Mr Singh believed then, and still does now, that there is a "deeper issue that often led to bullying and misbehaving".

"(When) we know what the underlying issue is, then we can mete out the right punishment - to suspend or just counsel.

"The students must understand that if they don't behave, they might lose their place in the school.

"At the same time, parents must also understand that discipline is not only the duty of the school, they, too, play a part," he said.


When it comes to bullying, a former Head of Discipline in an all-boys school said he would administer the cane.

"But I would also inform his parents," said the 56-year-old, who declined to be named.

He said that nine out of 10 bullies generally confessed when confronted. For him, bullying includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pushing, damaging property and extortion.

He said: "A school environment must be conducive to learning. That has always been my objective.

"Every child's parents want him to be in a school that is safe and secure. If he is being bullied, then it makes it hard for him to concentrate and that's not good in the long run."

He believes that when the students enter the school at Secondary One, he or she should be made to understand the culture there.

"It is a sort of social contract they have with the school. It must reflect the society they will live in as an adult. Singapore society has not removed caning so the young who are going to grow up as part of that society must learn that fact," he said.

On the video of the bullying at Shuqun Secondary that recently went viral, he said: "If the video hadn't gone viral, the caning would have been done in the privacy of the school's office.

"Since it had gone viral and the school's reputation's at stake, the punishment would have been meted out during assembly."


This article was first published on September 26, 2015.
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