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Corporal punishment a thing of the past


Corporal punishment a thing of the past

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THE PRESS SOMETIMES gets things wrong.

I am hoping that they got it wrong and misreported the director of the Criminal Justice Research Unit, Cheryl Willoughby, as saying that parents should be allowed to discipline their children as they see fit.

For surely Ms Willoughby could not be suggesting that if a parent thinks it is fit to lock a child in a room for a whole day without access to the outside, that he or she should be allowed to do so.

But what the press didn’t misquote Ms Willoughby about is her own statement that she’s unaware of any alternatives to corporal punishment. Huh! There really is no other way we can influence our children in the right direction but to take up the broomstick?

Without any intention to offend, I must say I am extremely disappointed that someone holding such high national office could deliver themselves of such a myopic concept of discipline.

If she does not know, then she ought to be told that there are very many parents who discipline their children without having to touch them. My own children were raised with hardly any resort to physical discipline. And they are quite well-adjusted children – certainly not on any path to Dodds.

Ours is a culture steeped in many fossilised beliefs and traditions. One of these tells us that if we spare the rod, we will spoil the child. The interpretation of this biblical quotation – taken by many quite literally – is that it is part of God’s plan for children to be beaten. These people – among whom Ms Willoughby may be numbered – appear to be of the view that if they don’t beat their children, they would be disobeying a divine instruction.

The spiritual centre of Christianity, Jesus Christ, gave us a hint of how we should treat children. When the disciples were chasing the children away, He rebuked them, instructing them not to prevent the children from coming to Him. This loving Christ would certainly not be heard to suggest that parents be permitted to punish children “as they see fit”.

He demonstrated similar love when they brought the adulterous woman unto Him. He didn’t seek to enforce the law of the day which said she should be stoned; He pardoned her and put her accusers on the spot.

This obsession which we have in the Caribbean with beating children needs to be eradicated. Many children have been physically and emotionally scarred in our homes and schools by the indiscriminate and far too liberal application of this form of discipline.