Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
By Sir Frank Peters
“If space had permitted on the tablet of stone that Moses held aloft, no corporal punishment would have been the 11th commandment.”
Parents often talk, even boast, about how much they love their children. “I would do anything for my children.” “I would give my life for my children.” “I love my children more than anything else in the world.” These are just some of the most hackneyed expressions floating about. But wait a moment… if they claim to love their children, why are they sending them to schools, madrasas and other environments where they know corporal punishment is prevalent? The greatest trick the devil ever played on mankind was convincing the world he didn’t exist. Those of us who have had some education, however, know that corporal punishment is the manifestation of the devil on earth. It couldn’t be from Heaven, because there isn’t a single religion in the world that condones corporal punishment.
Bangladesh Supreme Court Justices Md. Imman Ali and Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif had this to say about corporal punishment. They said it was “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”. No law should be necessary to protect children. It should come from God as a built-in paternal/maternal instinct and, thankfully, in many cases, it is.
Protection of those whom you love should come naturally and fearlessly, as a God-given right. It doesn’t matter who the offending party is. The parents’ duty is only to the child. Whether the offender is a teacher, priest, imam or whoever, it should not matter. The protection of the child must always come first.
Corporal punishment in schools, madrasas or wherever can end overnight, if people were to speak out and act against it. Irish statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797) once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. We, individually and collectively, are responsible for allowing it to happen, whether we have children of our own or not.
Corporal punishment is a blight on society that affects all of us and brings shame upon us. What we allow to happen helps mould us into what we become. Whatever twisted sense of good intent one gives corporal punishment, there is no escaping the fact corporal punishment is child abuse, evil, cruel and wrong. Wrap it up in pretty gold foil, tie it in colourful ribbons, label it as discipline, and it’s still child abuse.
The one ingredient to success that’s missing in most homes, schools, and madrasas is ENCOURAGEMENT. There seems to be a worldwide shortage. If children fail to get something right in schools, madrasas and homes, they’re beaten as if they had committed horrific crimes. Yet we all know none of us is perfect (with the exception of this writer!) We all make mistakes (with the exception of this writer!) and even our beloved Prime Minister makes mistakes without being beaten (to the best of my knowledge, anyway!).
Flippancy aside, it’s obvious to all that corporal punishment is wrong and totally unnecessary. Honey catches more flies than vinegar. Besides, niceness is priceless and we should be nice to people anyway, especially the young, vulnerable and defenseless and teach by example. If a child gets something wrong, is this justification for beating them?
Surely this is where God puts us on trial and judges our reaction. He observes if we deal with the situation intelligently, with understanding and compassion, or if we act like uncivilized morons and reach for the nearest stick. We reap what we sow. In the eyes of God, the child isn’t the one on trial, but the adult.
After all, the child is a child… novices in the world of learning. One cannot expect too much. They need to be shown what‘s right and proper and it’s our duty to God and society at large to show them. Violence resolves nothing. We all know how exasperating children can be at times. No one questions how difficult it is to raise them. The majority of children will drive you up the wall and many will measure how high they get you to go (!) but that’s no reason for beating them.
The moment you hit a child, you lose part of yourself. ‘This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you,’ parents are heard to say. So why make two mistakes? Smart wives inject confidence and encourage their husbands to succeed in business because they, too, reap the benefits. Like I said, they’re smart! Encouragement is the key. Implant the seeds of encouragement in the mind and just stand back and watch it grow. God planted the seeds of success in all for encouragement to germinate. From time to time, you may need to sprinkle it with a tiny booster of faith and belief, but the chances are it will perform brilliantly on its own.
There is no need for a teacher, parent or Imam to hit or even scold children. They come fully equipped with implants from God that only require human compassion and encouragement. Encouragement produces amazing, if not totally incredible, results. It beats corporal punishment every time (no pun intended!). Encouragement is an immeasurable superpower.
Make no mistake; the greatest gift any teacher, Imam, parent or friend can give anyone (male, female, young or old) is ENCOURAGEMENT – not an iPhone!
Sir Frank Peters is a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian and human rights activist.