New citizens’ rights body seeks to reverse trend against corporal punishment By Shawnel Cudjoe
Guyana Chronicle
June 10, 2004

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AS the controversy over corporal punishment continues, a newly formed citizens’ body is moving to reverse the trend against corporal punishment. The group is particularly concerned about the objectives of a workshop set for June 16-17 at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel under the theme ‘Discipline Without Beating’.

The Citizens Concerned For the Real Rights of the Child held its inaugural meeting last Tuesday afternoon at City Hall, where members of the public and representatives of church bodies and social organisations were invited to give their views on the issue.

The body headed by businessman and political analyst Mr. Lorri Alexander took a resolution calling on the National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC), the Ministry of Education and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to reverse the campaign launched to abolish beatings in schools and homes in Guyana.

At a press conference held on Saturday last, First Lady Varshnie Jagdeo, who is the head of the NCRC, had said that the purpose of the workshop is “to explore alternatives to corporal punishment in the homes and schools, as well as reflect on the escalating violence in society and consider ways such violence can be reduced”.

Mr. Alexander at Tuesday’s meeting described the upcoming workshop as an ‘eye-pass’ and an example of ‘slackness’ that should not have been allowed to happen.

Speaking about a nationwide campaign that proposes asking children to give their views on whether corporal punishment should continue, Alexander had this to say.

“It goes without saying, (that) if you ask a child if they want to be flogged, obviously they would say no.”

Another committee member, Mr. Loris Heywood, told the gathering that although they are against the misuse and abuse of discipline, it should not be a crime to spank your child.

He noted that should corporal punishment be abolished within the legal framework of Guyana, beating your child could ultimately be termed a crime.

The committee noted that the family unit is the backbone of the society and that a breakdown of this unit could cause the society to suffer.

Several books of the Bible including Proverbs were quoted to show that God approves of children being disciplined by way of corporal punishment.

Persons expressing their views were totally against the elimination of corporal punishment, especially in homes, claiming that parents must have some say in disciplining their children.

Thirty children drawn from primary and secondary schools countrywide will be among the 150 persons commenting on the matter at the workshop.