Mon | Nov 12, 2018

Distinguishing between discipline and abuse

Published:Thursday | November 9, 2017 | 12:07 AM


As Prime Minister Andrew Holness and others move to take this round of national debate on the question of banning corporal punishment in schools and homes to another level, I have just two concerns.

My first concern has to do with the definition of "violence" in relation to what is generally loosely referred to as corporal punishment.

It is good, and right to move expeditiously to outlaw all forms of violence and abusive treatment against all innocent persons men, women and children in all public places and even in private homes including enacting new laws and regulations, where necessary, and enforcing those that already exist.

It is important that clear distinction be made between the calm, self-controlled, loving application of non-violent, non-injurious forms of discipline, such as strategically applied 'spankings', etc., and the usual angry, venomous, and violent 'abuse' of corporal punishment, whether in schools or homes, using sticks, stones, metal rulers, studded belts, clothes irons, machetes, and various forms of torture.

It is true that parents do not own children. But neither does the State.

So let the debate continue, in and out of Parliament. But let there be clear and honest definition and understanding of terms.

Loving,self-controlled "spankings" are not the same as "violence against children". There is a difference between the discipline and corporal punishment.

Let's not end up throwing out the baby with the bath water.

My second concern is this: we see and hear much justifiable concern about 'child abuse' in Jamaica. But who is dealing with, or even talking about, 'parent abuse' (involving parents, and grandparents especially) that is already rampant in Jamaica, land we love? .

Carlton A. Gordon

Kingston 10