Spare a thought

THE topic of corporal punishment is always extremely contentious in Barbados, with many people believing that we should continue doing what we were doing in the past because it kept children in good stead, as it relates to discipline.

If we are going to use the past to rationalise what we are doing today, let’s spare a thought for the way persons were beaten as slaves to do Massa’s bidding.

For some this comparison may be unfair, but is it really? Arguably, back then flogging was effective up to a point, but didn’t it also evoke hatred and rebelliousness in the person being flogged? When we try to justify this punishment by saying it is a part of our culture, we have to ask, “Whose culture?”

When we really dissect this issue, we will realise that some strange arguments are used to try to justify brutality, such as: “I was beaten and I turned out alright.” However, as one well-known political commentator remarked during a panel discussion two years ago, “How do you know you wouldn’t have been better without being flogged?”

Arguably, there is a level of archaic thinking that international child protection agencies are asking countries across the globe to address immediately.

In many cases, the level of brutality is unwarranted and if we are to be honest, isn’t it more of a release of anger, disappointment or frustration for the person doing the flogging?

The problem is, in a fit of anger or rage it is hard to gauge the level of punishment being administered, which can lead to a child being injured or worst, dead. Then what?

Additionally, what we need to understand is that children apparently become immune to lashes. By their own admission, persons who support corporal punishment would talk about how many times they got their rear ends cut, by any object that came to hand by their parent or a special belt or bamboo. Arguably, if you had to be beaten on numerous occasions, doesn’t that mean that the punishment was never taken seriously and therefore was not an effective mode of punishment?

It stands to reason that even though you were being disciplined and lashes was a constant memory of your childhood, you didn’t learn anything from that punishment.

We need to ask ourselves, “Why is it that there are some parents and also schools that don’t administer corporal punishment, yet their children and students are doing extremely well?” Clearly, they have found a formula that works and we need to replicate it.

At the end of the day, we must understand that this is a different generation with a different mentality. We therefore have to think outside of the box, if not our old way of thinking will leave us with a generation of children who have found a way to beat the ‘system’ or end up in the system because our methods of discipline were not effective.

Barbados Advocate

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