Recently, I voiced my agreement and support for the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police force as it moves to become more proactive and community-focused.

No doubt this is a renewed step in addressing crime and violence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Once again, I find myself in agreement with sentiments from the government.

This time it’s the views of Prime Minister – Dr Ralph Gonsalves on the issue of corporal punishment in schools. Before I continue, let me categorically state that I am an independent thinker.

I am not swayed and or influenced by one party or the other. I am a champion of the common man! Those who think it but cannot say it and those who want to say it but does not have the means to do so.

I will stand up against what I perceive to be wrong but equally and fairly acknowledge where things are potentially going right – on both sides. Prime Minister Dr Ralph. E. Gonsalves, whose administration removed corporal punishment for prisoners, but retained it in the schools have now expressed some doubt as to whether the latter was the best solution.

iWitness News – a leading online news publication, in an article, headlined: “PM sees link between beating children [and] violence” chronicled Dr Gonsalves’ views on settling differences.
His comments were made as part of a weekend radio presentation which came on the heels of a spate of domestic violence incidences. One of these incidences culminated in the death of a female nurse allegedly by her estranged husband.

Dr Gonsalves is reported as saying that he “often wonder, those who advocate beating in schools as a socialisation or beating in the home, beating, beating, whether we are not engendering in young persons the idea that the only way to solve a problem is by giving licks.” I have been one of the few persons to express doubt and to articulate a critical view of the decision to retain that portion of the amended law. In a January 8 posting on Facebook, I noted that:

“The retaining of flogging as a punitive option in schools while outlawing it for criminal offences is preposterous.” Dr Gonsalves added, the issue of appropriate punishment is “a complicated matter.” I agree! However, I also believe, as I have asserted before that we should “start looking at why some children act out, rather than giving teachers the option to physical abuse those who do.” No matter how complicated the processes of afflicting penalties are, I sincerely believe “it is time that we recognized that by inflicting physical punishment on children we are also teaching them that it is ‘OK’ to hit.

” I am happy to see that the Prime Minister feels and have voiced a similar view. He is quoted as saying: “there are times when our families are also involved in this education, socialisation – [telling] the children not to hit one another. I am wondering whether when the children are beaten and beaten so badly, whether that doesn’t leave a mark.” Absolutely! – It leaves a mark, physical as well as psychological scars.

Again I want to suggest that St. Vincent and the Grenadines look toward developing a more comprehensive, uniformed set of guidelines for disciplinary actions, academic infractions and remedial educational measures. For instance, if a student cheats on an exam at The St. Vincent Grammar School and another student does the same at The Girl’s High School, the penalties should be the same. Similarly, a student who threatens or disrespects a teacher at The St. Martins Secondary should not be treated differently than his counterpart who does the same at the Bequia Anglican High. The penalties for those infractions should be the same. Furthermore, these penalties should not fly out of the hat of a heated and angry principal.

There should be a process that informs both the student and his or her guardian about the infraction and the documented penalty for the particular infraction. Maybe a Unified Students Handbook is a good start. I am sure, that if we proceed along these paths we would do more to make the assignment of penalties a part of the overall holistic development of our youths.

Physical punishment without behavioural improvement is pointless and behaviour modification does not require corporal punishment. It wears off and makes you angrier!

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