Archbishop Robert Rivas OP of Castries has come out in support of the abolition of corporal punishment in schools in St Lucia. “I am happy about it,” the Archbishop said, according to a St Lucia Times article, March 4, ‘Archbishop happy over plans to halt spanking in schools’.
Archbishop Rivas had consulted the Church’s Education Director for the Archdiocese, who was also very “happy” with the move. Noting that the Director represents the front line of the Church on education, he said he “trusted” her judgement on the matter.
The Catholic Church in St Lucia currently manages 35 schools in the country, including two secondary institutions. The report stated the Archbishop acknowledged that for many years there had been a move towards reducing the level of corporal punishment in schools.
“I think the time has come now when we probably should be better equipped with all the sciences that are available to us on child care and child-friendly schools and how to deal with discipline in our schools, without necessarily having to inflict corporal punishment,” Archbishop Rivas said in an interview with local media house MBC Television.
He declared that implementing the new approach to discipline in schools does not mean discipline would suffer. The Archbishop asserted that there are other ways of disciplining a child, aside from corporal punishment. “I think these are the other ways that we have to find,” he told MBC.
Archbishop Rivas explained that one of the important things would be instituting measures to halt abuse of children in the home. “We do have situations where sometimes parents or guardians can inflict very harsh punishment on children—sometimes very little children. Sometimes we see it on the streets even, the way a mother or parent or guardian would treat a child,” the Archbishop said.