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.”)