Columns

Stop beating in schools!

BY Damion Heslop

Thursday, November 09, 2017

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness has stated for a number of years now his vehement opposition to corporal punishment. The prime minister is considering outlawing the practice in our schools. Though I am not opposed to responsible corporal punishment on a biblical basis, I agree with Holness.

Let me declare my reason: When I was in grade 8 I witnessed the severe beating of a classmate of mine. He was about 15 years old and had been identified as someone who disobeyed an instruction. The teacher called him up and started beating him with a belt — the kind you find in motor vehicles. When that didn't work, as my classmate just laughed right back at him, he got angry and tried other items to inflict pain. He beat the child with a branch to the point that he started to cry and beg for mercy.

What happened to my friend, now a fireman (last I checked), is not to happen to anyone's child anywhere. If any teacher did that to my child I am not sure how I would contain my seething anger.

The point is, we have reached the stage at which we must think of smart ways to reinforce good values and attitudes in our children. School is not the place for corporal punishment.

I depart with anyone who believes that corporal punishment cannot be administered in special circumstances. That should be a decision made in the home and family environment and not the school.

The role of Government

I am not in the business of allowing the Government to have too much say in the daily lives of our people. There are limits and boundaries to government intervention. As long as a child is not being abused, as long as the child is not being cut, it is the business of the family and not that of any Administration in power. If we allow politicians to wantonly legislate their values, then we may have a society where soon a politician might want to legislate what sexual position you are to partake in or not. When you go that route you are asking for trouble, as one day a party with an overwhelming majority in Parliament might just take this course.

In 1980, the Jamaican people rejected a quixotic ideology, in which Government would essentially become the master of the State economy and not private enterprise — a stupid and reckless ideology known as democratic socialism. We must be sure to not forget the purpose of progressive governance.

I commend Holness for his consistency as he has been advocating for smarter and more responsible behaviour in schools for at least a decade now and is on the public record with his position. Therefore, his plea now is authentic. I believe it is responsible for a Government to legislate against anything that may lead to the abuse of our children. That teacher lost his temper because my classmate was laughing off his blows, at first, and resorted to, I dare say, draconian measure. This cannot be OK. The school year of that beating was 1992-1993; no one advocated for my friend. Some 25 years later, I feel maybe that the prime minister, somebody, is finally standing up for him.

damionheslop@yahoo.com

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