To Flog or Not To flog

The Caribbean Is One Nation.


Caribbean School Children
Once more there is a raging debate in Barbados about the use of corporal punishment as a means off Instilling discipline in the country’s wayward youth. Corporal punishment or “flogging” as it often called, has been a staple in the country’s home and schools and it is one of those traditions that is often referenced as a certain deterrent for what the islanders usually refer to as “bad behavior”.
The use of the belt or strap to keep children on the straight and narrow path has its roots in the biblical quotation: If you spare the rod, you spoil the child. Many headmasters and teachers have utilized this method and are often praised by some of their former students, for inflicting the pain that apparently stopped them from becoming social deviants and criminals. In the home, it was generally believed that children only understood the rules when a flogging or “cut tail’ was administered.
While the law relating to inflicting corporal punishment in the school has mandated that only headteachers and some senior staff can use the rod; there are no such rules governing the home. This means that in the home any adult with some authority can give a child “lashes’ without fear of any legal challenge.
Throughout the Caribbean, student on student violence at the school plant, is becoming a major problem. The trend is not only at the high schools but there have also been some cases of extreme violence at our primary schools. These acts have put fear in many teachers and citizens have blamed this development on the lack of corporal punishment. However, this position is being challenged by those who are vehemently opposed to inflicting what they see as violence. They believe that violence breeds violence. There is a school of thought which suggesst that flogging has its genesis in slavery, when slaves were beaten for whatever the master determined to be transgressions.
Corporal punishment cannot not be the panacea for all the problems our young people are causing or encountering. It is difficult to support that inflicting pain on a child can only have a positive impact. Children live what they learn and if we continue to use this method of punishment, they would see it as a tool in child rearing and conflict resolution. We cannot continue to accommodate those who see the rod, belt or cane as disciplinary instruments. Many defenseless children are brutalise in the name of discipline and carry both physical and mental scars from severe beatings. This leads to domestic violence and other negative traits when they become adults.
We are therefore calling on parents, teachers and the wider society to stop flogging our children and teach them more humane ways of conflict resolution thereby preparing them to think, communicate and discuss differences rather see any form of violence as an acceptable method of problem solving.




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