Wed | Jun 7, 2023

Spare the rod, then what?

Perrin says effective alternatives to punish unruly children not clear

Published:Friday | April 16, 2021 | 12:22 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Reverend Hartley Perrin, chairman of Clifton Boys’ Home.
Reverend Hartley Perrin, chairman of Clifton Boys’ Home.


Pointing out that many of the accepted forms of punishment do not work on insolent children, Clifton Boys’ Home Chairman the Reverend Hartley Perrin said that the probe into alleged beatings at the facility brings into fresh focus the need to define what disciplinary actions can be used by parents and guardians to get results.

Perrin was speaking with The Gleaner on Thursday ahead of a second anticipated meeting to discuss recent allegations of abuse at the Westmoreland-based home operated by the Anglican Church.

“How do you deal with children, especially boys, who are disrespectful, undisciplined, and otherwise resentful of anything called authority in these times? It is a question that the country has to answer and seriously contemplate, as persons are prone to saying that we can find creative ways of discipline, but nobody can define what those creative ways are,” Perrin said.

“What do you say to parents who have unruly children that they can hardly manage, whose children are insolent, rude, disrespectful, and ungrateful? I am in no way going to condone corporal punishment that resorts to bodily harm to anybody – male or female – but a line has to be drawn in terms of what is acceptable behaviour in a certain context, because in many instances what we regard as acceptable does not really work,” Perrin added.

His comments came a day after a meeting between the home’s administration and representatives from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) to discuss reports that 11 of the 21 boys being housed at the facility were subjected to corporal punishment by being beaten with a switch. The home’s superintendent and a duty officer were suspended after the allegations came to light.

A search has since begun for a temporary appointee to supervise the operations at the home until the ongoing probe into the matter has been completed. The CPFSA is currently manning the facility.

“We have not set a date as yet for the next meeting, but I know certain officials of the CPFSA will be coming in to have their own appreciation of what has happened, and I am hoping to be present when they make their appearance. Then I will be able to inform the home’s board about what has been said and what is going to be done, and then we will proceed from there,” said Perrin.

The abuse allegations have marred the history of the 60-year-old Clifton Boys’ Home, which was destroyed in a fire on January 15, 2017 and later rebuilt between March 2019 and last October at a cost of $60 million.