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School CP - June 2009

Corpun file 21550

The Gleaner, Kingston, 26 June 2009

Letter of the day

The case for corporal punishment in schools

The Editor, Sir:

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Locked in the dreaded cycle of violence, our society struggles with the search for solutions to this multifaceted problem including the question of corporal punishment in schools.

Those against corporal punishment in schools argue that it is cruel, humiliating and violent. Furthermore, they believe that its administration may be injurious to students, is prone to abuse by teachers, and may result in litigation against teachers and the Ministry of Education. Additionally, they believe it may be even counterproductive because its long-term effect could make students more prone to violence in adult life.

On the other hand, those for corporal punishment in schools say it worked well in the past, and is well tried and proven as demonstrated by the production of mannerly, polished, and disciplined students throughout the school system and into the then wider society.

Disconnect between school, society

We have created a vacuum while we experiment with new alternatives. What we are witnessing is a disconnect between the school environment and the harsh realities of our real society. It seems as if the large number of graduates from the current school system only contribute to an increasingly violent society.

While the education administrators are disarming teachers of their straps and canes and require that they use only persuasive techniques for dealing with disciplinary problems, in the wider society, the administrators of law and order are further arming the police department and correctional services with deadlier guns in addition to skull-cracking batons.

In years gone by, corporal punishment, as part of a school's disciplinary system, could be compared to vaccination; that minor discomfort experienced by the unruly student from the benign sting of the strap or cane served to immunise him or her in the future.

Unfortunately, legitimate violence, and not just persuasion, is the reality of all civil societies. There is a time to drop bombs on aggressors, a time to shoot attacking enemies, a time to use lethal force on violent criminals or intruders, a time to subdue forcefully and restrain various wrongdoers. Therefore, under controlled conditions, by humane administrators, students should be made aware, from a tender age, of the realities of the real world. "Where words fail, blows ensue" (common saying).

I am, etc.,
Manchester, Jamaica

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