Corporal punishment in schools

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
November 27, 2000

Should corporal punishment in schools be abolished from the statutes or should it be retained? Following are the responses to this question from the man/woman-in-the-street;

Marcia Singh - secondary school student: 'Corporal punishment or flogging of children in schools should be abolished. It is barbaric and it is also child abuse. Children don't learn from flogging. And when flogged they too may want to pass it on. There are many other ways in which a child could be disciplined. Detention, demerits and suspension are just a few. In addition, many students whom we think may need flogging may actually need attention and this is why guidance and counselling may be necessary. We have a guidance teacher but even senior teachers assist in guidance when necessary. Flogging is not the answer. In my school students who are disciplined are also put to do community service, which includes cleaning up of the environment. Some students are given tasks, that they do not like, to complete within a given time.'

Marcia Hope - media practitioner: 'I don't think that corporal punishment should be abolished from schools because it enforces discipline. Flogging tends to put children in line when other methods fail. I can use myself as an example. I was caned at both the primary and secondary levels and I believe that had it not been for some of it I would have probably been on the road. However, I feel that in administering corporal punishment there should be clear guidelines which the school should follow. I know that others would argue in favour of guidance and counselling, but a good many students are not motivated to do better unless they are caned.'

Marcia Yansen - University of Guyana student: 'I think that corporal punishment in the schools should remain because of the state of society right now. If we look around we will see that indiscipline is rampant and we need to enforce discipline. Flogging is one means. I would agree that some teachers are not authorised to flog children and some overdo. However, there should be guidelines within which flogging should be administered. I also agree that flogging has its advantages and disadvantages but the advantages to the child and society far outweigh the disadvantages.'

David Noel - taxi-driver: 'Corporal punishment should remain in the schools because it enforces and instills discipline in the child. This is supported by the Bible which says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod shall drive it far from him. God created human being and gave the Bible for man to follow as a manual to use to live a good life. If the manual is not followed then things are bound to go wrong. It could be compared to a car and the need to use the manual to ensure that the car is cared for in the right way. It is because we are not adhering to God's manual that we have so much teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and so many societal ills today. That is because we are using a number of modern concepts of psychology which in essence is sparing the rod and spoiling the child.'

Gary Haley - driver: 'Corporal punishment should be abolished from the schools. I passed through enough of it during my school life and it was not easy. I was actually flogged every day at primary school and probably every fortnight at secondary school. I don't think any schoolchild good or bad should be subject to what I went through. I was probably considered bad but in retrospect I feel that the school or the education system could have found other means to discipline me. Detention after 3:00 pm, with some studies after regular classes or maybe even suspension would have been better. Beating a child at school could only breed violence because the child will think that is the way to go. The child will then continue the trend later on in life and may even apply it to his home life situation. I remember a particular teacher who would beat students badly. I didn't have to do anything bad, just seeing him would bring out the fear in me.'

Barrington Braithwaite - artist/writer: 'I really do not know what to say as that is a debate to which there is no black and white answer. In the Guyana situation institutions are crumbling, be it the judiciary, the police force and even our sense of administering social justice. These, including our laughable political situation, are all impacting on our young people. The situation is really so indescribable, unpredictable and frightening as well. Many young people feel that if they get drunk they could be beaten to death. How do we discipline our children? How do we tell them what is right and wrong when we adults do not treat each other with the due respect we ought to show. We do not even have an appreciation for the law. All those who should be enforcing and upholding the law are busting it left, right and centre. Let's be real. This question needs to be looked at by professionals and non-professionals. How about sending our children to Boot Camp when they need to be disciplined?'

Pretipaul Jaigobin - accountant: 'Corporal punishment should remain in the schools. Corporal punishment, or call it licks like we used to get in our hands, made many of us get our school work done and it made us behave ourselves as well. I think that if many of us did not get licks back in those days many of us would not be the persons we are today. I do not see corporal punishment in the school as child abuse. Actually I see it as a form of discipline. I know that many would say use other methods to discipline a child but many children do not understand unless they get a lash or two. As to detention, that serves no purpose. It is fun for many.'

Janet - seamstress: 'I am not in agreement with corporal punishment in the schools. It is child abuse. It sends a wrong message to children. If parents sit at home and really speak with their children about their behaviour there would be no need for teachers to get aggressive with children. However, the fact is that many of us parents are working and we do not give as much time to our children as we ought to. As such much responsibility for the welfare of our children is left with the schools. Because of this I believe that the local education system needs a strong guidance and counselling unit to deal with problems of discipline.'

Ron Amos - University of Guyana student: 'It should be abolished because it would not benefit a student in his academic performance. As a means of discipline it should not be used. If a child behaves badly let them do some cleaning up of the environment. I am sure they would not like it especially since they would not want to work as garbage collectors. Place a child in detention but with a programme in hand, a programme that is academically oriented or one that emphasises the basics in good behaviour and moral education. Give him to spell a thousand words I am sure he will learn something. Flogging in schools is a physical form of child abuse. I had a lot in my time and the memories I have of them are not good. I also would not like my children being flogged at school. Teachers should study psychology and put into practice how they should deal with children with varying ability and attitudes.'

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today