School unrest rising because children cannot be spanked

Generations from 80s, 90s were more responsible because they feared the cane

In Summary

• Children's Act does not give a clear outline of the alternative ways of punishment, especially in schools. 

• Children sometimes misbehave on purpose knowing teachers cannot hit them.  

Corporal punishment
BANNED: Corporal punishment
Image: FILE

If you grew up in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, you know corporal punishment was the order of the day. One understood what misbehaving and any form of indiscipline meant for them. As a result, even the most irresponsible person had to at least cultivate and demonstrate some degree of responsibility to avoid the cane.

Psychologists may throw stones at this reality but the majority will agree that were it not for the punishment they were given back then, they would have barely got to the positions they hold today.

The trend took a different turn on March 13, 2001, when then Education Minister Kalonzo Musyoka published a gazette notice introducing changes to the Children’s Act banning corporal punishment. The international community also became more vibrant on the fight against child abuse including all forms of violent punishment.


The Children’s Act has, however, proven to have a number of shortcomings that should be looked into. For instance, the act does not give a clear outline of the alternative ways of punishment, especially in schools. Children can misbehave and disrespect their teachers knowing the teachers cannot raise a hand to hit them. From such a young age, children learn and master the art of misbehaving and getting away with impunity.

Unlike the African way of upbringing where spanking was random and unlimited, the modern family set up is easy-going and softer. This is the reason indiscipline in schools and among children has been on the rise in recent years.

Key stakeholders have had differences but there is a tiny common ground that should be used to restore sanity. The Kenya Parents Association, for instance, unanimously agree canes are effective in disciplining children.