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School CP - August 2004
Barbados Daily Nation, Bridgetown, 12 August 2004
All For Licks
A recommendation by the National Commission on Law and Order that corporal punishment must remain in schools, has been given the thumbs-up by Minister of Education Reginald Farley.
But another, that schoolchildren should not be allowed to ride on public service vehicles (PSVs), has been given the thumbs-down by president of the Minibus Association Dennis Tull.
The 14-member commission, whose report was laid in Parliament last Tuesday, suggested a revision of the 1982 Regulations to the Education Act to create two areas of punishment in schools -- statutory offences, such as carrying weapons, sexual intercourse and drug use; and offences that were non-statutory and non-work related, such as petty stealing, unruly conduct, defiance of orders and those where "neither the use of Government agencies nor moral suasion is relevant".
"The Regulations of the Education Act should stipulate what are the infractions for which corporal punishment is permitted," the report stated.
"Our view is that ... the option of corporal punishment in schools seems necessary as a tool of discipline, especially in the new environment where indiscipline has clearly escalated and where there are repeat offenders, evidence of incorrigible behaviour and violence."
Farley said the recommendations appeared to support the direction taken by the ministry, recalling that in April principals were presented with guidelines showing them a range of disciplinary procedures.
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Barbados Daily Nation, Bridgetown, 17 August 2004
Best On Tuesday
'Licking' for discipline
By Robert Best
The recommendation by the 14-member National Commission on Law and Order that corporal punishment must be kept in our schools does not mean that such punishment will not remain a hot and controversial issue. For generations Barbadians have argued about flogging in schools and at times have even gone to court over the matter where cuts and bruises were used as evidence.
Those who do not favour the flogging of children suggest that alternative ways of punishing them be used, signalling that they are not against children being punished.
What they object to is the physical pain that corporal punishment causes.
But then those who favour corporal punishment will argue that it is the pain that has the desired effect, that it is the experiencing of pain that is intended to deter the victim from repeating whatever offence or whatever led to the flogging in the first place.
The flogging deterrent is felt to guarantee that a child will be compliant, have respect for rules and the rights and property of others, will refrain from violence (never mind that flogging itself is violent but might be seen as retribution when a child has itself been violent) and so on.
So we are urged not to spare the rod lest the child be spoiled with the rod being seen by many as the best means of passing on the necessary message in a way that alternative punishment will not.
Parents and others who have control over children are therefore reminded that they must spare not the rod and spoil the child while the children are advised that if they don't hear (obey) they will feel -- the "feeling" associated with the pain of being flogged.
What is noteworthy, however, is that where our schools are concerned, in spite of favouring corporal punishment it has still become necessary to impose restraints on its use. Only certain staff members, including principals, have the privilege of flogging. Gone are the days when any and every teacher, especially at primary schools, was armed with a strap or tamarind rod the use of which was seen as necessary for maintaining discipline, or to flog students who were not "learning" as well as the teacher thought they should.
It was not uncommon for students who gave the incorrect answer to an oral question to be flogged on the spot as if such a flogging would automatically improve their knowledge if not their intelligence.
In a more enlightened age we now know that some students do have learning problems so the lashes do not rain down as frequently for lack of knowledge as in earlier days.
The rod is more frequently used these days in cases of indiscipline.
The National Commission favoured this approach by stating, "our view is that . . . the option of corporal punishment in our schools seems necessary as a tool of discipline, especially in the new environment where indiscipline has clearly escalated and where there are repeat offenders, evidence of incorrigible behaviour and violence".
The fact that such indiscipline has grown even though there has always been corporal punishment in our schools for such behaviour is worth considering. The problem will seem to require a lot more to curb the trend than just dishing out "licks."
Be that as it may, retaining corporal punishment in our schools will inevitably remain an issue with those parents who do not flog their children but use effectively alternative methods of punishment.
Such parents know only too well that corporal punishment can be a problem where angry parents, when inflicting it on their children, take up whatever there is to hand and use it to beat the children. Disciplining children, especially when using corporal punishment, itself demands discipline and control on the part of those who would so discipline.
Where such discipline is lacking, the floggings can get out of hand and on occasions have led to the law courts, with cuts and bruises used as evidence, even at a time when there was no thought given to any rights of the child.
Robert Best is a former managing editor of the Barbados Advocate newspaper.
Copyright © 2001-2004 Nation Publishing Co. Limited
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