Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Editors' Forum | Social class determines how children are punished, says Samms-Vaughan

Published:Monday | November 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Maureen Samms-Vaughan, professor of child health and development at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI.

Students' socio-economic background and the schools they attend determine whether they are subjected to corporal punishment or emotional violence.

Maureen Samms-Vaughan, professor of child health and development at the University of the West Indies, Mona, told journalists at a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week that some teachers have shown bias in the type of and how discipline is administered.

"In the research that we have done locally, it has shown that teachers behave differently in different schools. So, in the school where majority of uptown children attend, there is less physical corporal punishment and more emotional violence, whereas in schools where children coming from the lower social class groups attend, there is a lot more physical violence," she said.

"Persons change how they respond to children and how the parents are likely to respond, and that happens with teachers."




In the meantime, the professor said strategies are needed to help parents recognise other and new ways to effectively discipline their children.

"It also happens with exposure, so a lot of parents who have access to the Internet and what is happening in the First World, persons who have lived overseas, get a different perspective on parenting because they have more access. Persons who don't have that kind of access and also who have been brought up in situations where that was all they knew and therefore this is all they think will work will perpetuate that kind of violence against children," she said.

"We need to start off first with understanding children's development. Discipline only comes way down the line. First, you learn to build a relationship with your child, you set boundaries and don't set the boundaries alone, once the child can communicate with you, set the boundaries with the child. What we have in Jamaica is a very authoritarian type of parenting. This is what I say, this is how it go, and if you don't, you get beating, instead of talking about it."