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School CP - April 2003

Antigua Sun, 28 April 2003

Sun Speak

A need for discipline

It is with alarming regularity that we continue to hear about and see the violent tendencies that seem to have taken over the lives of our young people here in Antigua & Barbuda.

If it is not gang terrorism, it is murder; it is brutal attacks with cutlasses and other forms of weapons. And even more alarming is the fact that quite often these acts of violence are carried out to settle arguments or to carry out criminal acts such as robbery etc.

It is the acts of violence carried out in non-criminal activities that leave cause for a lot of concern with the attitude and behaviour of our youth.

There was a time when young people were encouraged to fight using their fists in the art of boxing or their bodies in the art of wrestling. It was a way of allowing them to let off steam and the idea of using a weapon was out of the question.

This way sometimes a smaller but smarter fighter could get the better of a bigger one and although a lot of face was lost, the matter was settled and closed when the fight was over.

Not so these days as witnessed in a recent incident when this scenario was played out only to have the loser return with a cutlass and severely damage his conqueror.

What it really comes down to is a lack of discipline in our youth and the adoption of behaviour patterns, unfortunately picked up from some TV programmes, along with the idea that a criminal life is, as they would say, "cool."

There has been a serious breakdown of discipline in schools and even the home, over the years. And particularly so with our young men, who from a tender age adopt the dress code and behaviour patterns of prison inmates; drop out of school and more often than not search for an easy way of making money via the illegal route of drugs and robbery.

Consequently, they have never had the time to learn how to deal with anger, aggression and not always being on top of the situation.

It may sound old fashioned, but the old adage of "spare the rod and spoil the child" carries a lot of merit.

There are too many parents in society who refuse to allow their children to be corrected in schools by corporal punishment and adopt a similar attitude at home.

As most parents are aware, children are very clever and know what they can get away with and what they cannot. The absence of a spanking and its replacement by a talking to or being kept at home as a punishment really does not hold too much water in these days of computers, multi-channel television, stereos, etc.

As a matter of fact punishing a child this way is as far from punishment as one can get.

It is time to get back to serious discipline (not abuse) in the home and at our learning institutions.

We are not doing our youth any good for a future life by allowing them to run roughshod over adults and later themselves.

The need for discipline in all factors of their lives, attitude, application to a task, respect for adults and themselves, respect for the teachings of their religious affiliations and tolerance towards one another, whether it be colour of skin, station in life, physical appearance or preferences and respect for property.

This total lack of discipline in the lives of our young people has to be addressed if not the senseless violence being exhibited will only get worse.

As desirable as it would be violence and criminal activity will never ever be totally obliterated from society.

But if as a general rule our youth are guided by discipline and made to realise the advantages of a disciplined life, both at home and in public, it will go a long way towards eliminating most of the violence that we have to put up with in today's society.

Copyright Sun Printing & Publishing 2003

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