Reply to Editorial on corporal punishment
EDITOR: Before one begins a discussion on corporal punishment or flogging in schools, it is vital that definitions be given and that a distinction be made between punishment and discipline and between flogging and discipline. The purpose of corporal punishment should never be to punish a child, but to discipline.
The term “punishment” indicates simply providing a consequence to an action, but “discipline” is the purpose for which “punishment” is to be administered.
When a child misbehaves, corrective action must be taken to direct that student to a better path for his behaviour, both immediately and for his life to come. If this corrective action is done with an explanation to the child as to why he is being corrected, then discipline is being administered – guidance, direction, purpose for the good of the child.
If, however, the corrective action is done with no explanation and is done in anger merely because the behaviour is unacceptable, then punishment is being administered and the result in the child will be anger, frustration, and possibly, revenge.
The form of the corrective action given to the child is not nearly as important as whether the action taken is punishment or discipline. Punishment for the sake of punishment does inflict emotional damage with lifelong effects on the child. Discipline, however, shows the child that he has value and that the one administering the discipline cares enough about the value of the child to take the time to redirect him from a bad path to a good one.
As a retired school teacher and the parent of three adult children, I know that discipline takes a little more time to administer than simple punishment, but the effects of discipline are much more positive and life-changing for the better. If one wants to improve the society in which one lives, discipline must be administered and must be done swiftly, with concern for the well-being of the child, and with knowledge that the child understands the purpose of the discipline.
Simply removing corporal punishment from schools will not make a difference in the quality of society if the replacement form of punishment continues to be punishment and not discipline.
Another thing to consider would be limitations on the administration of corporal punishment: what may be used to administer the discipline, where it be should administered, by whom, how much, and the presence of witnesses so that abuse may not occur. If discipline is administered outside the classroom rather than in front of other students, the concern for public humiliation is removed.
If there is a reasonable limit to the number of licks that may be given to the child and if a tool for the administration of the discipline is defined, then the danger of abuse
is removed. If a witness is required to be present for the administration and a document signed by both the administrator and the witness to the discipline, then further concerns may also be eliminated. This would be a much better approach to discussions of corporal punishment than the removal of it from the schools altogether.
The most important factor to consider is that God created society and every individual in it, and therefore He knows what is best for each person. In a Christian society such as SVG, one must NOT take God out of consideration in such matters. Note then, the following scriptures: Proverbs 5:22-23: The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.
For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.
Proverbs 13:24: Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
Proverbs 19:18: Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.
Proverbs 22:15: Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
Proverbs 23:13: Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
Proverbs 29:17: Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.
When a society presumes to know better than God what is good for itself, the society is doomed to failure, corruption, degeneration, and violence.
Witness what has happened to American society in the last 30 years since corporal punishment was banned from its schools: decrease in respect for authority, mass shootings in public schools, more violence on the streets, more violence in homes as corporal punishment has been removed there as well under the threat of prosecution for abuse, more fraud, more murder, more kidnappings, more, more, more – and less and less good.
Learn from the mistakes of other societies.
Learn from God what is good and right, and keep discipline, keep corporal discipline, keep well-defi ned corporal discipline in the schools of SVG for the sake of the children and the society as a whole.
Rhonda Vaughan Retired school teacher