“Benjamin, where ah jus tek you from?” “Dong de road mama.” “An ah tell you doan go out de yard?” “Yes mama.” “An you still went?”” “Yes mama.” “So you disobey.” “Yes mama.” “Well ah goin” cut you arse.” Neighbour Celia looked over the fence as Gwen prepared to administer punishment with the yard broom. She timed her intervention to when Gwen had dealt six good ones on the backside of the struggling Ben. “All right, ah beg for him, doan gee “im no more.” That was the signal for Gwen to pause and catch her breath. “Wha ah beat you for Ben?” she asked.” Ben, still crying and rubbing his buttocks, replied, “For goin dong de road, mama.” “An ah tell you not to go?” “Yes mama.” “An you was wrong?” “Yes mama.”” “You goin do it again?” “No mama.”” At this point she let go his hand.” The neighbour looked over the fence again. “Benjamin you mus hear wa you mother say. Suppose something did happen to you dong de road; suppose car de knock you dong? You see how much trouble you woulda put you mother in?” “You mus obey you mother, you hear?” Ben nodded and went into the one-room house. Gwen called out behind him, “Look on de table you see a fig, take it.”” In a few minutes, Ben was in the neighbour’s yard playing with the neighbour’s puppy. Celia looked over the fence, winked her eye and whispered to Gwen: “Ah lil cutarse does be good sometimes.” This scenario is set in the low income neighbourhood which existed all around the town in my boyhood. Nearly every parent was like Gwen, a single mom, living in a crowded neighbourhood in a small tenement. And nearly every boychild was like Benjamin; prone to be obstinate, disobedient even at an early age. As a matter of fact, a vigilant parent would notice that these rebellious traits manifest themselves at an early age. Gwen noticed it. It was around Christmas and the big drum was passing through the neighbourhood. The actors stopped to give a display of their acrobatics. All the boys of the neighbourhood witnessed the display and when the actors and their drummers continued their tour, some of the boys went with them dancing and jumping to the big drum music. Gwen was watching her son very carefully and when it seemed to her that he was about to follow the music she called out to him not to go. She turned to go back into her yard and looking back to see if her six-year-old son was following her, she realized that he must have slipped away with the other boys who followed the drums. Furious, she raced down the Ghaut, caught up the band spotted Benjamin dancing with the other boys. She grabbed him and escorted him back home. Similar scenes occur every day, in every neighbourhood of our island, in every part of the world. And the way parents deal with the problems of childhood disobedience and other deviances help determine the outcome in the lives of their children. Different strokes for different folks, so not every mother would tell her boy child “Ah goin” cut you arse” and proceed to do so with a yard broom. Another mother, perhaps one who lives at Mattingley Heights or Frigate Bay, might preferably say to her child, “I am going to spank you,” and use a belt. Whatever is the introduction to this painful resort, it is intended to teach the child that what he did was wrong and deserving of punishment. I know that there are many people who would disagree with me on this. However, on this one I am sure that I am right. I have to be right because I am basing my position on the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. Both churchgoers and non-churchgoers respect the teachings of the Bible and agree that the Bible is the true guide to how Christians ought to live. There is a lot of opposition to punishment of children who act waywardly. The advocates of this opposition think that they have discovered a modern method of raising children. But long before we came on the scene, way back in the days of the wise King Solomon, he had to rebuke parents who were lax in the raising of their children and reluctant to punish them for their wrong doing. He said, in Proverbs chapter 13 verse 24. “Those who spare the rod, hate their children but those who love them are diligent to discipline them.” The prevailing perception in some areas is that, if a parent corrects her child by administering a couple of slaps on the child’s posterior, that parent is violent and abusive. I can recall a case where a principal of a school in the USA lashed his own son at home and was arrested after a report reached the authorities. His career was ruined because he loved his son so much that he caused him pain to teach him a lesson. In another part of the Scriptures Proverbs 22:15 the Bible says: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a boy but the rod of discipline drives it far away.” It is a mandate from God that parents discipline their children. Hear what the wise man said in Proverbs 23 verses 13 and 14: “Do not withhold discipline from your children. If you beat them with the rod they will not die, but you will save their lives from hell.” Paul, the great apostle to non-Jews taught his followers that sometimes God punishes his children with pain because He loves them and wants to save them from hell. He drew a comparison with earthly fathers who inflict pain on their children lovingly, to spare them from greater pain in the future. If you ask me, many of the problems of our present youth, the angry and aggressive ones, stem from the lack of discipline with which they were allowed to grow. When a 6-year-old pinches his classmate and makes her cry, the teacher should not tell him, “Oh dear, you are naughty.” This little rascal, who seeks pleasure by causing pain to others, should be punished with pain to drive the foolishness far from him and avoid a life of rascality in the future. Should schools administer corporal punishment? Yes, judiciously, to correct bad behaviour. When I went to school and later when I taught at school, the Education Code of the day allowed corporal punishment and stipulated clearly how and by whom it should be executed. It was the head teacher’s sole responsibility and when he/she lashed a student, a record of lashes and the infraction should be recorded in a Punishment Book. This proviso was to ensure that the blows were not inflicted haphazardly by an angry class teacher and that the Head had a chance to judge that the case required corporal punishment. “”””” I believe that this regimen should be followed in our present day schools, especially in the Primary Schools. For if children learn early to avoid ignorance and folly and to be afraid of the inevitable consequences of deviant behaviour, while they are very young, when they are older they would not depart from it. “”””” The cutarse which Benjamin got during that Christmas was not the only one he would got for the rest of his childhood. “”””” Gwen never made any jokes with him when he went wrong, and he knew what to expect from disobedience, dishonesty and disrespect to any of the neighbours. He learned to think twice before falling into any of these temptations, for he was afraid of pain. “”””” As he grew into manhood his early fear of pain translated into fear of jail and this kept him out of trouble.
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