I recently read an article by a Christian political candidate calling for the return of corporal punishment in schools. Whilst many of us can sympathize with the need for better discipline in the education sector, especially if we are teachers or know anyone who is, I don’t believe caning is the solution. The gentleman, a pastor, cited the well known biblical passage “spare the rod & spoil the child” but this is not justification for schools to use the cane, it is a call for parents to apply appropriate discipline to their children.
The problem of lack of discipline, not only in schools but in society in general, comes from two areas;
- Lack of parental responsibility. It is an unfortunate side effect of having an all encompassing education system that some parents have abrogated their own responsibility in many areas of life, relying on the school and the teachers to “fill in” the bits they are unable or unwilling to complete themselves. Basic things like good manners, politeness, respect for authority, common courtesy and consideration of others. We can’t expect an overworked teacher, with 20 or 30 kids to look after, to provide anymore than the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.
- Societies lack of respect for authority in general. When I was a child, we had the greatest respect for teachers, policemen, lawyers, doctors and even politicians. But in the recent past there has been a growing trend, particularly in the media, to denigrate and criticise anyone who exercises any form of authority. Of course not all those in positions of power are as finer citizens as they could be, and all need to be kept accountable for their actions (they are after all fallible human beings) but most are hardworking, dedicated individuals doing their best to make the world a better place. We may not agree with their philosophical position or even their methodology but we should still respect them as leaders.
So rather than caning errant children in school, let’s help teach our young adults about the value of disciplining their children. Let’s restore some respect and confidence in our leaders and teachers and above all, let us all behave with courtesy and old fashioned good manners to each other and all those around us and it will rub off on our kids.