Nation e-Edition

Rod of correction

Rod of correction

By Corey Worrell | Fri, March 29, 2013 - 12:01 AM

Being a parent and being a teacher are two of the greatest, most stressful yet the most important and rewarding jobs in the world. The first you aren’t paid for and the second you aren’t paid enough.

Both jobs come with the responsibility of caring, training, educating, supporting and disciplining children. The latter has resurfaced as a hot debate in this country over the past two weeks.

There are many forms of discipline that can be used to keep a child in order, one of which is corporal punishment.In Barbados, when we hear the phrase, corporal punishment we immediately think about lashes, licks, whipping or flogging. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of a Child defines it as, “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light”. (Seems very broad and ambiguous to me).

I have no idea where corporal punishment began, but I do know that sometime in the tenth century BC, Solomon addressed the matter in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 22:15 – foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod of correction will drive it away from him.Proverbs 23:13-14 – Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.

I fully support corporal punishment once it is needed but it shouldn’t be the first response or method used to deal with a situation or a problem. The human body reacts differently to various stimuli and as a result different approaches should be administered.

A pinch or a slap can have a quicker result than continuously asking a child to stop doing something. There are some children for whom a stern look would solve the problem but there are others that it wouldn’t work with.Each child and each situation is different so various disciplinary options should be explored and used.

We continue to advocate for children’s rights and I fully support that, but parents have rights as well. As a parent, I have a right to discipline my child if he steps out of line.

For us to categorize corporal punishment under the heading of child abuse is misleading and wrong. There are humane and proper ways to administer corporal punishment and then there are other ways that are extreme, wrong and abusive.

Earlier this week I heard a local advocate against child abuse oppose corporal punishment and claim that it makes children less sociable and encourages violent behaviour. Could it be sheer coincidence that the American Psychological Association opposes the use of corporal punishment in schools, juvenile facilities, child care nurseries and all other institutions, public or private, where children are cared for or educated.

The association claims that corporal punishment is violent and unnecessary, may lower self-esteem, is liable to instill hostility and rage without reducing the undesired behaviour and is likely to train children to use physical violence.

I am slowly seeing the “northamericanization” of my country. It seems like our decisions and thoughts are being determined by others. There is plenty we can learn from Uncle Sam but as my friend Kyle has taught me, “we must learn to eat the meat and spit out the bones”.

I am a teacher and I can tell you that the few teacherswho flog are more feared and respected than those who don’t or can’t. Their classes are more organized, children generally behave well and they come prepared with the necessary items for class.

Students’ behaviour has deteriorated tremendously yet corrective measures and adequate disciplinary actions have been taken away from teachers.

Research has shown that children who live with and are parented by both parents generally perform better and have considerably fewer disciplinary issues than those who don’t. I wonder if in our education system the same would be true if the principal and deputy principal were different sexes.

• Corey Worrell is a former Comonwealth Youth ambassador. Email

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