Letters & Opinion

To Beat or Not to Beat

Image of a child
Image of Kensley Peter Charlemange
Independent Eye by Kensley Peter Charlemange

WHO in their right mind hits a child because they love to inflict punishment and pain? I would dare say no one and if per chance there are any, the number is infinitesimally small. A war of words has been created between the pro corporal punishment advocates and the anti-corporal punishment pundits. There are bigots on both sides. I have lost “vote” because of my stance on the issue but as I told that someone, I will not get into political office on pretense and if that is how I have to get there then this realm is not for me.

Saint Lucia in the confusion and chaos that is globalization, has signed on to many conventions, some of which I think are detrimental to small island states. We come from a different historical background. Our resources, natural and human do not match-up to our bigger brothers and sister countries, Uncle Sam, Mother England and the likes. We have to acknowledge that reality.

So all of a sudden news breaks that corporal punishment will be banned in Saint Lucian schools. Then when the rush subsided, real story was that it would first be suspended, then obliterated by May of 2020. Of course this was to the joy of some and detest of others, myself falling in the latter grouping. For those who know, I have taught for a period in my adult life. In fact I started teaching at 18 and so I was just about three years older than some of the students. I have taught in schools where corporal punishment was practiced and where it was not.

I pour water on the fire that is lit that all use of corporal punishment is abuse. It is not. Of course with the arguments raging on, people are bringing out all the arsenals. There was a depiction of a teacher with a belt in a classroom inflicting punishment on a student. He (the teacher) was seemingly out of control. Now for me, if that is what corporal punishment is, by all means abolish it. Another depiction was where a child, looking like an adolescent boy, slaps his mother. The corporal punishment advocates asks, “What now?” Even some of the pundits claim a right of self-defense.

It has been in the education act for the longest while that teachers cannot beat children, only a principal or whomever he or she so designates.

For me there needs not be a law against that. The question is, with such a measure have we emboldened an already delinquent generation? Have we let the bull loose? Is there impeding havoc to follow? I am a child of the seventies and happily so. At that time, anyone could have passed a hot one on me, if I had done something wrong – talk about a village raising a child. Now everyone has rights and the world is an awful place to live.

The question remains; why the rush to ban corporal punishment in schools? Let me add to that. Have we trained our teachers sufficiently well to use other measures of discipline? Do we run parenting classes for mothers and fathers to be and even those who are not parents? I have little issue with the banning of corporal punishment in schools if we have implemented adequate measures to fill the void that we will be creating, but I fear that we have not.

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