There was an article in another newspaper on January 11, 2020, titled “Will ending corporal punishment increase childhood development?”
The writer laments being the recipient of childhood abuse – corporal punishment and made a strong case against corporal punishment and abuse.
Maybe I’m opening the proverbial “Pandora Box.’
This question of corporal punishment needs to be seen in its widest context.
To begin, there is a clear difference between the judicious application of corporal punishment and abuse.
Abuse in any form is unacceptable in a civilized society and let me make it abundantly clear abuse must not characterize our society.
I disagree that corporal punishment should be completely abolished.
Acceptable rules and regulations to govern our daily lives from early childhood to the day we bid farewell on earth are necessary.
These rules must be established based on our tradition, experiences and a common desire to live in a wholesome and decent environment.
In all religions, it is predicated upon the individual subscribing to the dictates and rules of one chosen religion or belief.
Generally, there is a place of pleasure and glory if you behave correctly in compliance with those rules or philosophy but if you choose to behave contrary to those rules, you are damned to everlasting punishment and misery.
This reality of such a relationship exists, a common trend in all religions.
Examine Buddhism – the search for enlightenment, Islam –the root to salvation by submission, Hinduism – a constant seeking for liberation, and one popular in Guyana, Christianity – where Jesus, the Christ is regarded as the way to God. He left rules of conduct as contained in the Gospel.
As a child, I grew up in a Christian home, with Hindu and Muslim friends in the nearby communities.
As a child, I was taught that if I subscribe to and carried out the teachings of our Saviour Jesus, that reserved for me was a place in Heaven with ‘milk and honey’ and a wonderful life in the hereafter, but if I was disobedient the punishment will be everlasting misery in a place called ‘Hell,’ a fiery furnace ruled by Satan and his angels.
The majority of Guyanese subscribe to one of the above religions and beliefs and therefore accept the consequence of punishment if we are deviant, or go astray.
What is important and a key element is moderation. Punishment must fit the crime and here I agree with the writer of the article that punishment for being in breach must not constitute cruelty and inhumanity and must be neither whimsically nor capriciously applied.
On Friday, one of the contesting Parties’ platform is that Guyanese should urge a case for being a State of the United States of America.
I am certain the vast majority of citizens would reject this as being absurd.
Nevertheless, I believe every family in Guyana has some relative or family member living in the United States, a country that has practiced the philosophy that if you break the rules, (never mind who or how the rules were made) punishment would be swift and severe.
In 1776, force was used to tell King George III, that enough was enough.
The United States maintains the largest and most powerful military in history. US warships dominate the oceans, its missiles and bombers can strike targets on every continent, and hundreds of thousands of US troops are stationed overseas. Every few years the US sends soldiers, warships and warplanes to fight in distant countries. Many countries go to war, but the US is unique in both the size and power of its military and its propensity to use it.
Fact, that the lesson which appears to be universally accepted, is if you step out of line expect some form of punishment.
Everywhere in every generation were seeing this pattern.
As a youngster, in South Georgetown, I remember hearing the ’bad men’ saying that they would avoid going before certain Magistrates who were in those days fond of sentencing which included whipping using the ‘cat-o-nine tails.’
Fear of the cat-o-nine tail may have persuaded some to behave.
May I conclude by saying again society, schools and our homes must apply some appropriate punishment to those who seek to disrupt and disfigure society.
We have seen persons commit crimes hurting innocent people because perhaps severe punishment was not applied when they embarked on a life of crime.
But here also, the State has an obligation to provide remedial services and opportunities for rehabilitation.
Let us aim for homes and schools where all accept the golden rule and there will be no need for corporal punishment.
Until then, don’t spare the rod and spoil the child.
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