Centenarians differ on corporal punishment

Kaieteur News
February 12, 2007

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NEW AMSTERDAM, BERBICE – Two of Guyana 's oldest citizens expressed different views on corporal punishment. Ursilla Julian, 102, of Howard's Alley in New Amsterdam, feels that removing corporal punishment from schools would contribute to a decline in moral values.

“It can lead to a lot of things, like them being own way...They can turn out to be murderers. Let them (the teachers) beat them. They must behave themselves. They must obey the teachers.”

She believes that teachers must set an example, “In my days, I don't know if my teacher used to wear short clothes. Miss Brusche used to teach me at Scots School . She used to drill us. Me ain't know if she skirt was short or long because you couldn't watch her too strong. “When the children do wrong things, she beat us with the wild cane or a tamarind whip. If you go home and tell your parents and talk too strong is another set of cut ass you get.”

The children nowadays proper hard ears…Oh lawd! Them this now not good! If we were hard ears like them, we woulda get a good cut tail.”

Mrs. Julian's husband passed away in his 80s, and her only child died a few years ago, at age 73. She is not the only one to reach the century. A sister made it to 104.

Ms Julian is a member of the Mission Chapel Congregational Church. “I does cry when I ain't get to go to church. God doing a lot for me; He sparing my life, and we got to pray to Him.”

Her grand-daughter, Faye Kesney, said that besides suffering from bouts of senility, the woman cries frequently and talks to herself. Mrs. Julian is totally blind.

“I doing what I can do, with the help of God,” she remarked. She would celebrate her 103rd birth anniversary on May 22. “I want some curry hassar and some ginger beer. Me nah got teeth to eat hassar, but I gwine eat it all right.”

A few streets down the road, at Pope Street , is 101-year-old Joseph Girdharry. “Corporal punishment does not do any good to the children; it reduces their prestige. I see that, and I have a lot of experience. Talk to them as much as you can. I do not believe in whipping, it does not do much good.”

A good form of punishment at school is detention, he said, and at home, a quiet corner should be established. “Cut their allowance, if they are getting, take away their privileges. Today, the modern day people need a lot of money, and the majority do not get enough, so some of them steal, they turn to crime.”

He said that in his days, persons were taught to be more responsible. “I started to work since I was 12. I left school in fourth standard. My first job was at Mendonca, on Water Street . I worked there for 15 years then resigned. I did other jobs and, years later, opened my own business.”

At Girdharry's General Store, he worked until he was 83 years old, “I never used to smoke nor sport a lot. Now the sight is not too good, the hearing is not too good, and the walking, too. But I don't have pressure, sugar, or any aches and pains. People must not sport too much.”

His 102nd birthday is on June 14. His wife died at age 72. Together, they had one child, who is now 81.