Guyana Chronicle
March 25, 2004

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SO, we are once again debating whether we should continue to brutalize, terrorize and traumatize our children in our schools. The contention suddenly (or perhaps not so suddenly) has a new dimension. The students are manhandling and intimidating teachers. Well, I, for one, am not surprised at this development. If we instill in our children and promote the concept that violence is the solution to problems, then there can be no wonder that a student can viciously place the business end of a 2 x 4 on a teacher's skull. By extension of course the burnings, beatings, stabbings, maiming, killings inflicted on women fall under that same conceptual rubric. By the way, that student who damaged the head of his teacher is still at large. He has a safe haven; someone is protecting him; someone is an accessory after the fact; that someone is doing this young man a great disfavor.

But let's get back to the origin of this vicious cycle. The brutality meted out to children both at home and at school. Some of the protagonist of the savagery argue with great doltishness. Their four main supports are;

(i) The Bible says so - something about sparing the rod and spoiling the child

(ii) I've been beaten and look how good I turned out.

(iii) If you don't beat them, how are they to learn discipline? In other worlds, discipline must be beaten into the child.

(iv) In the "advanced" countries, where children are not beaten in schools the crime rate soars.

Let us look at the arguments a bit closer.

The First One: The same Bible that speaks of the use of the rod, tells us that Jesus said "suffer the little children to come unto me". Peace, comfort, loves were his message, surely not violence. Yet again, throughout the good book, the rod and staff are constantly being used as functions of comfort. You may recall the 23rd Psalm "thy rod and thy staff the comfort me, the rod and the staff of the good shepherd is not to beat the sheep but to lead them. In fact, the word educate comes from the Latin "Ducere" which means to lead. Education is instructing and leading.

On the second argument time does not permit an in-depth analysis of this warped piece of psycho path.

Suffice it to say that the statement should be; if physical atrocities had not been perpetrated on my body, how much more I would have achieved; how much a better person I would have been.

Relative to the third argument, allow me to paraphrase the Reverend Minister Dale Bisnauth, who once advised us that morals and goodness are "caught". In other words, examples by adults will lead to ethical values being imprinted on to young absorptive minds.

By the way, if beatings are so successful, how come it is the same children who get the lashes over and over again?

Lastly, it is simplistic to postulate that the soar in crime in more developed countries, if in fact there is a scientifically based, proven increase in the incidence in crime, linked to their removal of corporal punishment from the homes and the classroom. Actually, many of us unbeaten children come out quite good, thank you. The truth be told, there are several alternatives to corporal punishment and the attendant psychological trauma. Our own Ministry of Education had, three years ago, proposed thirty alternative to the cruelty. Also, many of the current letters to the newspapers prove very convincingly that the atrocities perpetrated against our children in the name of teaching can have a very long lasting and deleterious effect on our wards.

There is much more one can say about this subject. However, one thing must be crystal clear. No student can learn optimally in an atmosphere of fear.