Thursday, July 1, 2010

Can the cane

A cousin was talking about how a couple in Canada lost the custody of their two teenagers, when it was found that one of the two kids had a small wound on her leg, supposedly from a scissor that fell down. The scissor wound was not inflicted by the parents but the school suspected the parents, because of a callous comment the kid made, which was something to this effect, “my mother will kill me; if she knew that I had played with the scissor, so I did not tell her”. A casual comment which set the school into action and the kids are now with foster parents. Shocking and sad, you would say.
That was in Canada.

Picture this scene, in India, where the parents complained about the rising fees, and the students of Vishal Bharti School, Paschim Vihar, were made to sit on the floor of the school in the December winter.
Harsh punishment from the schools for revolting against their systems.
You can find more such ruthless acts here, all from authorities who are supposedly the caretakers of our children.


So what is the right way? What is the median?

Are we being far more lenient on our kids and reacting to absurd logics? Is corporal punishment the way to go? Where do we draw the line and be a guide to our kids, bring in the sense of responsibility, instil the right values, let them see the right and wrong with that occasional tap and a few raps on the hands and bottoms, more verbal (read loud) debates to emphasise a point? Or do we, as parents, just let them be, let them learn from mistakes, grope their way around in this bad world and learn the lesson the hard way?

No, I am not for corporal punishment. But having said that, I have had a few chalks thrown at me, a few raps with the scale, but these acts were never to victimise me. And never ever did it border on bullying.
So where do I draw the line? Where do we, as parents, get up and protest?

The school who sent the girls to foster parents said that there were other ways than caning to bring an erring kid to task.
Most counsellors are unanimous when they say a child must never be punished the first time they make a mistake. If the mistake is repeated, an alternative form of deterrent has to be found—from barring them from watching a favourite programme on television or not being allowed to play in the evening and in schools staying in after class or standing at the corner of the class.
Here is what a counselor, felt about it. She said that there is no knowing just how much is acceptable when it comes to corporal punishment.
She said: "There is no such thing as this much is enough. (Hitting a child once) could be enough to scar or hurt a child."
Having worked with youths aged between 11 and 17, who are often beyond parental control, she believes more in getting the children to reflect on their actions.
"Caning is not going to solve the problem. The more you cane, the more the child loses his/ her fear of it. The wounds eventually heal but the scar it has caused may not go away," she said.

I may not be the best mother around, nor am I a bad one though I still have loads to learn. I want them disciplined for sure, but will not tolerate any corporal punishment.
But when she is in the wrong, I want her disciplined, in a way that makes her aware of her wrong deed, not by inflicting wounds on her personality or her physical self.

(If my elder one sees this, she will remind me about the pinch I gave her earlier this week, when she was sitting engrossed in the World Cup match, completely forgetting her test the next day, even after five (note that, see repetitive) shrill reminders from me.
This also brings to mind what my younger told me, when I was scolding her (rather loudly) for her lack of attention while doing her homework. She told me quite seriously and encouragingly, “Amma, you shout very well, you should become a teacher. You can do it.”)


Swaram said...

God! Am sorry Sindhu, but I am still laughing @ what ur younger one said lol ;)

Where do we draw a line? Hmm, nt sure if I hv answer rt nw too :( I liked the idea of denying them what they like after their mistakes are repetitive though!

But that case in Canada, thatz shocking! The child did say she was playing with the scissors no?

Deeps said...

Excellent article, Sindhu!

I'm not for corporal punishment. Never. And when I read about this girl who dies of heatstroke after being made to squat in the sun or the boy who's driven to suicide after being caned by his teacher, I'm even more against it. I feel the tolerance level of our teachers today, is seriously going down.

The Outlook has carried a poll where it has asked whether the teachers cane children out of concern. And 36% have said that they do it out of frustration. Alarming, isnt it?? Frustration for what?? Low remuneration? Lack of acknowledgment? Whatever it is I feel pained to say that the children and parents are paying a heavy price for that 'frustration'.

To this day my mom's students remind my mom of how she pulled their ears and how she made them the person they are today. I guess earlier the teacher-student relationship enjoyed much more closeness and bonding than today. Today sadly that sentiment seems to be missing. I may be wrong but its really hard to gauge.

Having said that, what happened to that canadian couple is not something I agree with and approve of. What the school did, in my opinion, is totally unreasonable.

I totally understand your dilemma about drawing a line while disciplining your children.I feel that too when Namnam tests my patience :)

I've had my ears pulled by my mom. I remember being reprimanded by my father for a very grave mistake that I did. But not once did that make me question their love for me. Nor did that affect my psyche.

So where do I draw the line for Namnam?? Guess wth time I'll get my answer as and when the situation presents itself.

Very very well written post, Sndhu. Saying it again. Absolutely Loved reading it :)

Deeps said...

THANK GOD!! After the fourth attempt I finally could comment on your post...I was on the brink of losing it!! Such a long comment and every time it was being rejected!!

Hope this one goes through in the first click!!

Aa word verification eduthu onnu maattuo please??? :P :P

Renu said...

What happened in Canada is shocking....I dont advocate corporal punishment, but a certain discipline is a must, it make the children grow into better adults.

Anonymous said...

Hehe...I like your kids already :D hehe!! :P

But yeah, corporal punishments need to be looked upon with seriousness coz the effect it creates varies from child to child. To some it becomes an emotional issue scarring them for the rest of their lives. I say a definite no-no to corporal punishments! other means such as detentions, public service, counselling etc offer much better means of punishments, I believe. I have done my schooling abroad n the situation there is much different, with punishments amounting to scraping you from your favorite sports team for a while; detentions; assisting in the cafeteria and the like.. I'd say that those little punishments work much better than the cane!

sindhu said...

Swaram: Sometimes there are extremetes and then you relook what you have been doing till then.
Deeps: Yes, the article in Outlook was shoocking. I wanted to write more about teachers and teaching and how earlier it was more a bonding while now it is just competition, the best child is just concentrated on...
Who used to complain about a teacher caning you earlier, because then there was absolute trust in the teacher and the system and it worked in most cases, though ofcourse there were bad instances too.
So it is still a big question mark, as to what the schools should follow. What the schools abroad follow, in system, is much better, other forms of punishment than the physical way.
Renu: I didnt agree to that, there might be a different story to it, I still don't know both sides of it so can just speculate. I too belive a bit of discipline is necessary.
Sashu: My kids are cute from far, I tell you, come here for a day and you will run far!
And I agree to what you said.

Smita said...

A very well written post!!!

Few days back I was having this discussion with my MIL!! She asked me you'll hit the kid to discpline him/ her? I said no! but I would make sure that my eyes do teh trick!!!

Keeping the kids discplined is imperative but how well you do it is the real thing!!

So when u becoming a teacher?? :D

Usha Pisharody said...

I went on a rant here, Sindhu, and blogger swallowed a most profound comment on punshment without so much as ado :( :( I cant remember what i wrote, just went on and on and on!

But just to ensure that some of it gets here, before I forget completely. Corporal punishment never works, never has too. And it is alarming to note that it is mainly due to frustration that it actually takes place. The reasons for that ar many too. Working conditions, poor temperament, lack of commitment, overcrowded classrooms; and general personal disposition.

I see it around me on a daily basis. Instead. Listen. And make them explain themselves. I guarantee you that more often than not, explaining yourself, will make the lesson to be learnt easier, and surer, than punishment or ever advice!

Can't remember the rest :(

And btw, this is a beautifully written piece. Balanced and making your reader to ponder over it too.


omg good one..njoyed reading it..where do we draw a line yes..perplexing. i do go harsh with my only daughter but satisfied today when she still says its ok, amma u must have told for my good[ we have councelled her this too]..and also feel somewhere too much pampering isnt good, too much of disciline also isnt good..balancing in btwn is tough act :-)