Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Dear Editor: MP Olivierre should stop politicking with child welfare and corporal punishment

Dear Editor: MP Olivierre should stop politicking with child welfare and corporal punishment

“School violence in Trinidad and Tobago did not start with Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s term of office as Education Minister. That is a false premise, and when you start with a false premise, your argument is dead in the water.”

In the following Letter to the Editor, novelist and social activist Merle Hodge urges MP Nicole Olivierre not to use corporal punishment as a political football:

Photo: La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre.
(Copyright ircp.gov.tt)

Very briefly, Ms Olivierre, in the 21st century, to beat or not to beat children is no longer a topic up for debate. Just as there is no debate, among sane and sensible people, as to whether men should beat women and vice-versa. These are acts of violence against the human person and a child is a person too.

There are matters on which the leadership of a country needs to be better informed than the least informed among the people whom it leads. You are an intelligent young person—I can’t speak for some of the desk-thumpers—so you owe it to yourself and to the country to update your understanding of important social issues.

School violence in Trinidad and Tobago did not start with Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s term of office as Education Minister. That is a false premise and, when you start with a false premise, your argument is dead in the water.

You want to lay school violence at her feet but that is some pretty shallow and simplistic reasoning for someone of your intelligence and level of education.

It was a courageous act on the part of Kamla Persad-Bissessar to take the step that she did, in the face of the widespread, unthinking support for corporal punishment to be found among our population. There was no political gain to be had there.

Photo: A school teacher administers corporal punishment in Uganda.

And it is commendable that all ministers of Education coming after her identified with, and continued, the policy of no beating: Hazel Manning (PNM), Esther LeGendre (PNM), Tim Gopeesingh (UNC) and Anthony Garcia (PNM).

Have you noticed? Three PNM Ministers of Education. How is this a “UNC” policy?

Let’s leave the children’s well-being out of the politicking, please.

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  1. So let me get this right, you guys are saying that the removal of corporal punishment is to blame for the school violence (not lack of positive role models, lack of parental involvement, single parent homes, children having children etc)?

  2. Merle need to wheel and come again

  3. The MP pointed out that when Corporal punishment was removed, no other form of discipline was instituted to take its place. That has been the problem ever since. Teachers have few tools available to them to discipline unruly students and some if their parents are just as bad or worse as they come in school and accost teachers who do try to discipline their unruly offspring. Merle need some hearing aids?

  4. If I remember the MP’s contribution was that corporal punishment was removed without any alternative being offered. If this is correct why the hating on the MP?

  5. So correct Darren Taylor,we have no replacement.What we have had since that is total chaos and what borders on anarchy, in some of our schools.Principals and teachers cannot discipline some children.Children are actually telling teachers”yuh cyar do me nutten,watch mih act de fool up in here”.I am no behavioural scientist but as a citizen of this country,i have witnessed the rapid deterioration of our youth,since corporal punishment has been abolished in our schools.

  6. A little known fact is that CP was removed because there was too much violence in the schools. It was based on a premise that we cannot continue to use violence to prevent violence. Truth be told, there is little difference in discipline issues. Our grandparents were smoking weed behind the schoolhouse. But it didn’t have camera phones and Facebook back then to put them in the news…

  7. Agreed! Go back, way back… Read once again the newspaper headlines of yesteryear … 1992 to be exact. ‘Bullets before Books’, ‘Student brands another with an iron and tells him to stay cool’, ‘Students sell cocaine in school’. Noticeably these headlines are 8 years prior to the supposed removal of corporal punishment in schools. This ‘removal’ of itself is a complete myth! Today’s youth are still able to ‘benefit’ from the same beatings, insults and degradation we were exposed to as children.

  8. Even though corporal punishment might be a thing of the pass what should have replace it was a clear and well defined disciplinary policy

  9. While I readily and wholeheartedly agree with Ms Hodge’s argument, I question her observation that Ms Olivierre in an “intelligent” young woman. For too long we have been accepting credentials as intelligence, which explain why we are where we are as a nation today. This nation has more than its fair share of PhDs in Parliament, yet collectively cannot solve some simple solutions with which this county faces. It’s sad that Ms Olivieirre, like Ms Cudjoe or Ms Panday bring nothing new to the parliament, aside from their youth. They take their lead from the older heads who belong to another era; an era we would like to be long forgotten, which unfortunately haunts us every other day.

    • Took the words right out of my mouth…we have a lot of learned people..not necessarily intelligent people in Parliament( and numerous positions of power in this country)..it is why we are in the predicament we are in right now..with 2 major parties of this country that will take us absolutely nowhere.

  10. Merle Hodge what rock you have suddenly emerged from to use disguised language to personally attack a fellow female and a MP. She did nothing to you as far as I’m aware.

    She simply said said what the vast majority of the population has been saying. Why are you so silent on the statement made by the Head of TTUTA that teachers have no responsibility for their young charges during the lunch and break periods.

    How dare you compare corporal punishment to domestic violence? The criminal acts committed by these students did in fact intensify under Kamla, yes we all know she is your good friend, but she did nothing to stem the tide of the school violence that blossomed under her watch

    You want to disagree either the MP, fine that’s your right but not in the offensive and sarcastic manner. Shame on you!

    • Earl Best

      En boca cerrada, the Spanish say, no entran moscas.

      In case you don’t speak any Spanish, Ben nel, here, in English, is my advice to you: one is always better off keeping his/her mouth shut and letting people think (s)he is foolish than opening it and let them have their confirmation.


    • Ben Nel, you evidently have no idea that Dr Merle Hodges and a group called Working Women worked tirelessly to get eliminate corporal punishment in schools. I recall clearly as was a supporter of them then, and now. It is quite acceptable to be silent on some issues, especially those of which you are ill informed. I am not as diplomatic as Mr Best.

  11. Well, I totally disagree with you. Olivierre is quite correct.

  12. Thank you Ms. Hodge for explaining to this young lady that our children are not political pawns for her or anyone else to use for their political ends.

  13. No but there is no proper reprimand other than a 7 day suspension.

  14. All those things and more was going on long long time, just they are being recorded and broadcasted for all to see