Damaged child today, broken adult tomorrow

GUESTXCOLUMNI abhor corporal punishment in all settings: homes, schools and madrasas. No civilized society should permit it. It is inexcusable, evil, barbaric, archaic, inhuman; and achieves nothing good. Never has, and never will.

Comparing corporal punishment with discipline is like comparing chalk with cheese, black with white, oranges with lemons. Discipline is the name ignorant people often choose to give to the evil cruelty towards and abuse of children.

Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) put it in a nutshell when he said:  “To discipline means to teach, not to punish.”

Corporal punishment doesn’t beat the hell out of children; it beats hell into them. Why would anyone of even reasonable intelligence think that beating a child is a good thing and it would make the child a better citizen of Barbados?

If corporal punishment were good and beneficial to society, why is it only given to children? Good for children, but not adults?

If corporal punishment were good, I would be encouraging the Prime Minister of Barbados to be going through his office and Government departments several times daily with a whip or stick in his hands and lashing out at slackers and slow performances –– for the greater benefit of Barbados!

There is absolutely no place in modern society for corporal punishment of any description.

Mr Pedro Shepherd, president of the Barbados Union of Teachers, pleaded recently with the public to “give teachers a break, allow teachers to teach”. I couldn’t agree more; but if teachers were not meting out corporal punishment to children, perhaps there wouldn’t be anything for children and their families to complain about.

He went on to say: “Our position is that teachers are paid to teach to the nation’s children –– to give instruction, to supervise, to provide the necessary pastoral care; and teachers go beyond the call of duty to do that.

“Teachers do not go to school to administer corporal punishment; teachers do not go to school to abuse anybody’s child; teachers go to school to do the job that they are paid for.”

I’m of the belief that as president of the Barbados Union of Teachers, it is Mr Shepherd’s duty to see there are no “bad apples” among his membership and to deregister (and perhaps jail) those who bring the union into disrepute.

The BUT needs to make it clear to all its members that it holds a zero tolerance policy to corporal punishment, and not only will it not support a member guilty of the crime, but will kick him/her out of the union. And if the BUT doesn’t, Mr Shepherd is only speaking hot air, media sound bites; and behind the scenes, it’s business as usual.

It’s a fact: teachers change people; people change the world. Unfortunately, the same can be said for both good and bad teachers.

Mr Shepherd went on to say: “Teachers would tell you that they enjoy teaching, but, there are one or two children whose behaviour is being influenced by their parents; by adults in society.”

That is a problem which needs to be addressed. First and foremost, teachers are in school to teach the academic lessons of the day. They should not have to deal with disruptive children. The child, however, isn’t totally to blame. This is where one wonders if giving corporal punishment to the parents might help!

Teaching and learning is a two-way street. Schoolchildren themselves should take responsibility and support their teachers, and help in the maintenance of discipline within the classroom and not encourage disruptive behaviour of any kind, however entertaining it might seem at the time.

Many pupils fail to see a disruptive pupil (even if his/her intentions are to “entertain” and arouse smiles, sniggers and laughter among his/her classmates) as their “enemy”.

A disruptive pupil isn’t fun to have in the classroom. He/she endangers the learning of all present, breaking their concentration, perhaps even stealing the only opportunity a “slower” child has of getting a good education and a solid foundation for life.

An ideal teaching/learning environment is a safe, child-friendly, happy environment where appreciation and encouragement flow freely in abundance, even when a child’s initial efforts aren’t all that great, but they’re trying –– a place where a child feels appreciated, secure, wants to be and have an element of fun and camaraderie.

Like corporal punishment, criticism and condemnation have no place in a school. They are negative, destructive, and stunt a child’s development and help transform the school into a hellhole.

Children learn much quicker when they’re happy. A teacher’s smiling face, an encouraging look, and the odd joke thrown to the pupils to lighten things up, can make all the difference.

Teachers need to engender a “we’re in this together” feeling of camaraderie and be less authoritarian –– teacher versus pupils. Respect commands respect, and the first duty of every teacher at the beginning of every school year should be to gain the respect of their students (and their parents), and in turn they will be given all the respect and support they need.

At the beginning of every school year, every school class should hold a coffee, tea and biscuits “get-to-know-you” function at which all the pupils in that class, their parents, teachers and headmaster are present. (There’s always a local company or politician who would willingly sponsor such an inexpensive event.)

At the get-together, the rules of the school/class should be laid bare, both parents and pupils should be told of the “we’re in this together” philosophy, what is expected of them to make it all work, and sign an “agreement” to this effect. Welcome to the teachers-learners fraternity!

Sadly, some people are still misguided by and suffer from the “spare the rod and spoil the child” maxim echoed down the years.

It’s natural that loving parents want what’s the best for their children and some refer to the “Good Book” for guidance and support. In the “Book” it says “spare the rod and spoil the child” and virtually in the same breath, it adds: ‘he who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him”.

Fantastic! I’m all for it. Give the child as much “rod” as humanly possible . . . every day . . . every minute of the day.
Be ready with the “rod” at all times, day or night.

Before you think I’m contradicting myself, however, let’s examine the facts.

These extracts from the “Good Book” are generally interpreted to mean that if children are not physically disciplined when they do wrong, their personal development will suffer; but there’s a major problem –– the translation.

In Hebrew, the word “rod” is the same used in Psalm 23:4: “ . . . Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”

The shepherd’s rod/staff was/is used to encourage, guide, and discipline the sheep towards taking a desired direction; not to beat, hurt or damage them. No shepherd would intentionally damage his stock and reduce his profits.

The correct interpretation of the proverb, therefore, should read: “spare good guidance and spoil the child” and “he who spares good guidance hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him”. Now that makes sense.

And if you need any more evidence that corporal punishment is wrong, remember, Joseph and Mary never beat Jesus and that Jesus taught children through love, not corporal punishment. Shouldn’t that alone speak volumes against corporal punishment?

(Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian and a human rights activist. In 2011 he campaigned successfully to ban corporal punishment in Bangladesh schools. Three Bangladeshi families have named their sons Frank Peters in his honour.)

10 Responses to Damaged child today, broken adult tomorrow

  1. Tracey Edwards
    Tracey Edwards May 10, 2016 at 11:12 am

    I really don’t know how these people come to be talking as though they are experts on a matter. Do the research, do the math. Stop comparing abuse with discipline, to spank or use a belt to flag a child does not necessarily equate to abuse and no parent who disciplined their child in the correct manner using proper parenting has a broken adult in society today. All the Delinquent children, criminal acts in society comes from broken children, children who were not disciplined, children with permissive parents, children without proper manners and good parents. I just hope the Caribbean people will stop listening to the nonsense coming from the US, their society is more messed up than any other, so why take lessons from people who cannot control their own children and who has children giving grief to society, breaking rules and degrading values. Seriously?!!

    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty May 10, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      You can’t raise today’s children with yesterday’s values because life as we once knew has changed for the worse. Parents have to equipped children today’s with the survival skills, given the sexual predators around and above every corner.

  2. Samud Ali
    Samud Ali May 10, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Do the research. Do the math. Can you really back up your claim that no parent who disciplined their child in the “correct manner” (whatever that is) has a broken adult in society today? What’s the definition of broken anyhow?

  3. Gavin Dawson
    Gavin Dawson May 10, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    Tracy Edwards, this is typical, of things that start in the US,then filters down to other countries, before the people in the US saying what other countries should do with their children ought to step back and look at the criminal acts going on the states young children with guns,what are these people doing about that?
    Then in Barbados you have the people telling parents how to bring up their children, well let us see who are the polite children and those children who are not are,you can bet those who are not polite are the ones creating problems because of no chastisement in the early part of their growing up, and this stays with them into adulthood, and so it goes on.
    Being chastised even a smack never hurt any one, that is why the older generation are like they are today acknowledging one another being polite, do they look broken from being chastised ?

    • Mark Fenty
      Mark Fenty May 10, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      But the older generations had no really voice as this young generation does, because they were the victims of duplicity moral standard-which said to them: be seen and not be heard, and do as I say and not as I do.

    • Gavin Dawson
      Gavin Dawson May 10, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Mark Fenty, it worked you can see the proof, even with some of the young generation, who’s parents treat there children the old ways but at the same time let their children live a modern way of life, by giving them boundaries whilst living with them, when they leave home for one reason or another, then what they were taught by their parents comes into being, but when there are no boundaries and the child is allowed a free reign like the parents had when they were younger then, the whole scenario becomes different.that was my meaning, sometimes you can argue by having a free voice wether or not it is good, bad or indifferant.

  4. Mark Fenty
    Mark Fenty May 10, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Tracey Edwards, how about confabulating directly with some of the past students that have been the subjects of this draconian discipline to gain they insight? And we haven’t reach beyond the bounds of research regarding the cons of corporal punishment in the teaching profession, so we ought to advanced an absolutist position on the use of corporal punishment in school, until we finally resolve dichotomy of opinion regarding this issue. Nevertheless, I am quite certain that there were many students who suffered no real psychological and emotional effects from the administration of corporal punishment in the school environment, but as you well know, there is always an exception to the general prescription. So therefore, the focus ought to be geared towards those emotionally fragile students who are being taught in an environment of fear and intimidation because of the use of corporal punishment to instill discipline and learning.

  5. Aurelia Best May 10, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    The writer is 100 percent correct. I taught in a secondary school in Barbados, then I immigrated to Canada, went to university and became a professor. I am eternally grateful to my parents, and to my favourite teacher in primary school. My Class 4 teacher. She never beat us, nor did she verbally abuse us. She gave us free after school lessons in her home. I can still remember her saying that everyone who is teaching is not a teacher. If you believe that you must physically or verbally abuse children to make them learn. Don’t go into teaching. I have a masters degree from McGill and a Ph.D from the University of Toronto in Canada; and with all that higher education, my favourite teacher is still my Class 4 teacher Mrs.Maise Welch. Thank you Mrs. Welch.

  6. harry turnover May 10, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    YES !! so TRUE!!….Damaged child today…BY NOT DISCIPLINING IT….broken adult tomorrow.
    It goes BOTH ways….discipline today….. could be a.criminal tomorrow.Not discipline today…could be a .criminal tomorrow.
    All of a sudden to discipline a child is to abuse it…. a whole load of foolishness .What they should do is to learn and UNDERSTAND the difference between discipline and abuse.
    Each child is different,some can be discipline by talk alone others don’t care how much you talk to them they will still do what you tell them not to do and a little spanking here and there is the only way to ‘ wake them up “.
    Look they got some real ” hard ears ” children bout de place ya.

  7. J. Payne May 10, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    How many “monsters” are there in Barbados that were given plenty licks??? Raise your hand if you’re an absolute monster and you attribute it to licks.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *