National Security Minister Major Edmund Dillon will only encourage increased violence in schools if he reintroduces corporal punishment, according to the local civic group, Working Women for Social Progress.
The following is the press release issued today by the Working Women:
We accept that it may become necessary to remove students whose behaviour disrupts their schoolmates’ education—and their own—and threatens the safety of everybody on the school compound; but a constructive and humane programme has to be worked out to rehabilitate these students while it continues their education.
National Security Minister Major Edmund Dillon’s solution to criminality in our schools is widely recognised as a non-solution: “Bring back corporal punishment.”
Empower teachers to do violence to children, and all will be well. Peace and self-discipline will reign in our schools. This is not logical thinking.
If that’s all he’s got for youth criminality, the same-old-same-old knee-jerk reaction, how can we expect innovative, practical and well-thought-out solutions to the problem of crime in the larger society?
Most, if not all, of our juvenile offenders housed at YTC and other correctional institutions in our country have been treated with the “solution” called corporal punishment for all of their young lives. That did not deter them from the path of criminality. Indeed, it may have helped to set them on that path.
But this kind of solution is what one gets when one allows the military into the field of child/youth development and education. This is not their field of expertise.
With all due respect, bringing in the military to solve youth violence is not a good idea. The security forces, here and elsewhere, are known for high statistics of family violence among their own personnel, due, in part, to the strong-arm and often demeaning methods used to train them for their jobs.
The “boot camp” approach, being floated today in relation to suspended students, draws upon military training methods. That experience may leave the young person even more committed than before to the use of violence.
What kind of citizen do we want to produce? Boot camp and solutions of that kind seem to aim at breaking down the person’s sense of self-worth and bullying them into submission. This is hardly likely to produce a peaceful, self-disciplined citizen with a strong sense of self as well as a strong and active social conscience.
We suggest that the Ministry of Education consider contributions from child development professionals, parents, school students and relevant NGOs in designing a programme for students taken out of school.
Already a worthy suggestion has come from the NPTA President: look at a “suspension programme” being used by our next-door neighbour, Barbados.
Our organisation will shortly be submitting some ideas, beginning with a call for a thorough diagnostic assessment of each offending child to learn what is affecting that child.
Happy children do not lash out in the way that these youngsters have been doing.