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Place for flogging in schools


Place for flogging in schools

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THE IDEA of imposition of corporal punishment in secondary schools is a very topical issue which is engaging the attention of educational experts and civil society at the highest level.

It should be maintained, given the fact that it is still on the statute books, under Section 4 of the Education Act 1904. The right to flog could help to stem the increasing deviance and delinquency in this society if administered in the right time and in the right way.

Many of my generation were aware that corporal punishment assisted in the maintenance of discipline in the school environment, and in some instances as a motivator to some underachievers. At secondary school three consecutive detentions merited an automatic flogging.

There was the flog book and the detention book. Even prefects held detentions. One’s name was entered in the flog book along with the nature of the offence and the headmaster administered the flogging, indicating the number of strokes given with the cane. It was not a case of brutality, but I can argue that it kept many a boy in line. The clang of the bell at about 10:30 was an indication of the moment of truth.

Some boys would fight every day. There were also underachievers who would be galvanised into action. One principal would set Latin tests and anyone getting under 50 per cent would get a few lashes, especially those he deemed could do better.

Corporal punishment also helped to break bad habits. A breach of common sense was admonished as a breach of the school rules, punishable corporally. A few hard lashes, especially from fearless teachers, also helped to dissuade disruptive behaviour. Expulsion was not as prevalent; you either conformed to the school culture or went and looked for a job.

Floggings are on my books for disrespect, repeated disobedience, fighting or assaulting a teacher. There are many parents who are incensed by a teacher “hitting their children”, when they themselves don’t feed, love, discipline, encourage, cherish or cater to the myriad needs of their children, or moreover sanction them for the gravest misdemeanours. Many don’t seem to have the slightest inkling on how to raise children, and with many absentee fathers the problem is further compounded. The school has literally become the dumping ground for these “poor” children, with no communication between parents. Yet the teachers are expected to work miracles on these “tabula rasas”.

We only have to look at the examples of the United States and the United Kingdom where corporal punishment has been abolished to see the after-effects of this dereliction of societal duty. All of this talk about cruelty to children and children’s rights [is misguided], when the overarching right is to be disciplined and properly socialised, the earlier, the better. The lax parenting, a more permissive and promiscuous society, disruptive and delinquent behaviour have all contributed to societal decay. Also the pushing aside of spiritual teachings, the belief in God being the chief feature.

Nevertheless, parents should play the primary role in disciplining their offspring. Evidence would tend to indicate that several parents are only reproducing because they are biologically and sexually active. Children yearn for our support, guidance, love, care and discipline. There is nothing wrong if a parent or a headteacher has to administer a few lashes on a delinquent child, not to brutalise it but to stem delinquency. It seems as though sometimes we have to break children, though not psychologically, to socialise them. Parents should essentially complement the teachers and principals, by attending Parent-Teacher Association meetings and showing a genuine interest in the progress of their children, so that they can nip delinquency and deviance in the bud.

Material poverty does not preclude any parent from having a genuine interest in the progress of their chiidren. Whenever you see a bad child, take a close look at the parents.

It is better to impose sanctions at an early age than to allow deviance and the evolution towards hardened criminals.