“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:
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.
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.