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LETTER OF THE DAY - Flogging students isn't the answer

Published:Wednesday | December 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM


A delicate debate on the use of corporal punishment in Jamaican primary and high schools has left a repugnant odour throughout civil society. It seems that the ayes and the nays have locked themselves into one mindless squabble.

Some folks quickly refer to Proverbs 13:24 to justify their support to retain flogging as a means of punishment for offending children while at school. Verse 24 of Proverbs 13, I understand, refers to parents and their child or children regarding home training. The school is an institution of learning, and I believe these institutions have rules that help their students to be disciplined and prepared for the 'outside world'.

Discipline is not necessarily a means of punishment, but is a tool to inculcate orderliness and a sense of high esteem for the individual.

Should flogging be seen as a means to an end? I think not. Flogging is reminiscent of slavery, and I strongly believe that other means of punishment should be adopted to change the mindset of the offending student.

I also believe flogging is an act of brutality and doesn't necessarily remedy the intending purpose to which it is directed.

While flogging is an act of punishment, should we flog our students for being late on arrival at school? Should we flog for non-compliance in preparing homework, talking in class, not having the required attire, for using cellphones, or for simply not paying attention?

Even if they were caught in any situation warranting punishment, should they be flogged? Shouldn't mediation and/or counselling be preferred? Aren't there any other means of punishment?


My take on this matter is to have various sanctions in place. Should there be any unmitigated reaction from an offender, a higher means of discipline applied, decided on by a panel of arbitrators.

How many Jamaicans that have been through our institutions of learning and weren't flogged have made sterling a contribution to civil society here and abroad?

While I recalled getting walloped, along with my pals, by the headmaster (principal) for smoking decades ago in 1968, as a grade-six student at the then Montego Bay Boys' School (now Corinaldi Avenue Primary School), it never resulted in any shift towards my belief in smoking. It was a spiritual beckoning that led me to quit smoking decades after, not flogging.

I never flogged my children and today I am a very proud father when I behold their accomplishments due to a principled and supportive way of life. They never allowed the appearance of any lack of resources to block their achievements.