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The nation and the rod

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The nation and the rod

by Nurene Jassiem
01 Nov 2006
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

The other night I was watching a television programme in which corporal punishment was discussed, amid moves by government and certain social groups to ban parents from hitting their children.

For the record, I believe in corporal punishment as an effective method of discipline in society. During the programme it was suggested that instead of hitting a child, certain privileges should be taken away.

A schoolgirl then posed the question: "I live in a poor community and we don't have any privileges so how can this work for us?"

The panel against corporal punishment answered that even in poor communities, children have certain privileges.

I think it is more damaging to remove social benefits from a child who already has limited access to opportunities than to punish the child with a hiding and then tell the child why he or she was hit.

In this way the child can learn from his or her mistake and know that it is punishable, without damaging the child's social behaviour.

When children are grounded or have privileges removed I think they are more likely to rebel. When I was at primary school and we did not do our homework we would be caned and next time you would remember to switch the TV off and do your work.

Nowadays the ability to instil discipline has been so far removed from educators that parents end up marching to a principal's office and threaten legal (or physical) action against the educator concerned.

In the end the naughty child is taught that if he does something naughty at school his educator cannot do anything about it because his or her parents will "sort them out".

When I was at school in the early '90s, even amid the sensitive political state that our country was in, we would never dream of stabbing a classmate or holding our teacher at gun-point because they tried to discipline us.

On the contrary, when you misbehaved and got a hiding, rest-assured if you went home and told your mother she would give you another one to make sure you got the message.

Given that some parents abuse their right to discipline their child, I think that corporal punishment should in fact be allowed, but suggest that there be guidelines as to how it should be applied.

By banning parents from disciplining their children by hitting, government is interfering in a very sensitive and personal space the privacy of a family where parents and children communicate and put down "house-rules".

In our country we have many different cultures and religions, each with its own traditions and teachings that guide them about everything from the food they eat to the way they raise their children.

Therefore by placing restrictions on how parents may, or may not, discipline their children I fear that government may prejudice the rights of people to practice their cultures in what is supposed to be a non-prejudicial society.

So in short I would like to adapt a Biblical saying and say: Use the rod and spare the nation!

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