AWRIGHT DEN!: Nah beat my kids
I feel so much pain, disappointment, and sometimes anger, when I think about how I was beaten as a child at primary school. And for what?
I am sorry, but no one but my wife, grandparents, aunties, uncle, and I – and maybe godparents – will be given permission to discipline my children this way.
I attended a fairly popular primary school in the St Michael town area. My school was known for a couple things, one of which was “beating” (corporal punishment).
Many parents hoped their children would enter into the “A” classes, as those students normally performed better academically than other students. Throughout my four years at the school I was in 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A.
I have very few memories of Class 1 and 2, but Class 3 and 4 I constantly replay in my mind, especially Class 4. Even as I write this article, my heart is heavy and I can feel tears welling in my eyes. Due to time, I will only focus on Class 4.
In Class 4, the policy was you were beaten twice for every one question you got wrong. That would mean, if you received 80 out of a 100 in an exercise, test or homework, you would get 40 lashes. These lashes were not administered all at once, but as the teacher went through the exercise/test one by one. This occurred every single day.
I was not the smartest in the class; so you could imagine what my days were like. Out of fear, many of us cheated. We changed answers on each other’s books to protect each other; we copied from our friends; we often told lies as to which questions we got right or wrong.
Every day I went to school scared, fearful of going to class. I watched a friend of mine get beaten with a bamboo until there was blood on the back of his shirt. We were beaten with tamarind rods, sticks, rulers, leather straps, mops, brooms, basically, anything the teacher got his hand on. Some of us were even slapped across our heads, or hit across the head with books. Most days, I went home with weals on my skin.
In 4A, hardly anyone would ask the teacher to explain an answer, because that revealed that you would have got that problem wrong, and the result would be licks. I can remember being sent to the office for talking in class. The headmaster at the time took up a strap from off his desk and told me to hold out my hands. I should let you know that the strap was as thick as an adult male’s little finger.
The principal flicked the strap behind his back and hit me four times, two on each hand. Out of those four lashes, only one hit my palm. The other three hit my forearm. My forearm swelled to the height of my palm; I could see the hair follicles inside of my pores. This memory has remained with me for 17 years. Each time I think about it, I feel angry and hurt.
I ask myself why our parents would put us through this. It is only as an adult that I realized I was abused physically, emotionally and psychologically at primary school. There are teachers who generally care for the students they teach and would administer corporal punishment in a loving way. However, there are also teachers who would not.
I am sorry, but I am not willing to let any of my children, when they attend school, be a lab rat to distinguish who is who. Many may argue that they are a better person today because of the lashes they received as a child. That may be partially true, but I can also argue that they don’t know if they would have turned out even better if an alternative method of punishment was used.
I am not against corporal punishment totally, but I believe the time is quickly approaching when that responsibility should be left in the hands of the parents, and other forms of discipline introduced and administered in schools.
As I close, ponder on this: We beat/whip “children”, who are less experienced, have limited knowledge, don’t always know better, but we do not beat/whip adults who are more experienced, has more knowledge and should know better.
Dis nah mek nuh sense tuh muh.