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Child Abuse Negl. 2001 Feb;25(2):265-77.

Epidemiology and etiology of reported cases of child physical abuse in Zimbabwean primary schools.

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  • 1Department of Educational Foundations, University of Botswana, Gaborone.



There were two objectives: First, to determine the nature and extent of physical abuse perpetrated on primary school pupils by their teachers; second, to determine why some teachers physically abuse their primary school pupils in Zimbabwe.


Epidemiological data of reported physical abuse by teachers in Zimbabwe between January 1990 and December 1997 were analyzed using information in their files.


The study found that 78.9% of the perpetrators were male while 21.1% were female; 92.1% of the perpetrators were trained teachers while 7.9% were untrained; 58.7% of the victims were male while 41.3% were female; 91.4% of the cases were reported by the pupils themselves and 8.7% by the school head; 73.9% of these cases were reported to the Ministry of Education and 26.1% to the police. In this study, 80.4% of the victims were beaten, whipped or hit by their perpetrators; 10.9% were clapped or slapped; 4.3% were punched with fists; 2.2% each were kicked and pinched, respectively.


The findings indicate that teachers perpetuate various forms of physical abuse and that this form of abuse is now on the increase. The findings indicate that some perpetrators use corporal punishment on female pupils against the stipulated Public Service (Disciplinary) Regulations. What is clear is that the Public Service (Disciplinary) Regulations seem not to be deterrent enough because the majority of the perpetrators are merely fined or reprimanded while only a very small percentage is discharged from the teaching service.

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