Caning not the way to discipline children

Thursday May 31, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/5/31/focus/11387263&sec=focus

THE issue of caning children and students has surfaced again. It looks as if there is no end to this subject in education circles and among parents, too.

First of all, we must agree that punishment is necessary to discipline our children and students. But is caning the way to discipline a child or a student? Do we think that by caning a child or a student, he or she can be disciplined?

I am afraid we are not taking the right approach in this matter. In raising and disciplining children, I believe in the golden rule: reward and punishment.

These are two pillars. These two noble principles will ensure stability and order in families and in the world at large. Good deeds should be appreciated and bad behaviour should not be condoned and should be dealt with seriously.

By upholding this principle, justice is endorsed in child raising. In this context, parents play a crucial role in executing these two noble principles.

For example, whenever a mother sees that her child has done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart. If the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let the mother or father counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary.

The child needs to have the wrongdoing explained before punishment is carried out.

However, it is not permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child’s character will be totally perverted if he is subjected to blows or verbal abuse. Children receiving caning can be affected emotionally and psychologically.

Children are not beasts to be caned. They are human beings with a soul.

Some time ago, I was interviewed by a local TV channel on this issue. I emphatically stated no caning of children, while emphasising the need for punishment in raising children.

I strongly disagree with caning as a form of punishment. We need to execute punishment in different ways and in a more humane manner. Unfortunately, many parents today support caning children to enforce discipline.

It is not the physical pain a child experiences through caning that should be the punishment, but rather the pain of deprivation of things the child likes. This is what child experts and psychologists advocate to parents and educators.

What are the ways and methods? It is suggested children should be deprived of the things they love most, like ice-cream, fast food, watching TV, playing with friends, playing computer games, using sophisticated gadgets like IPod, etc.

Deprivation of this nature will make the children feel pain, too. This will make them regret their actions that resulted in such deprivation. Next time, they will make sure they will not get into mischief and thereby punished.

Parents and educators need to change their perspective with regard to discipline. Proverbs like “spare the rod and spoil the child” need to give way to modern thoughts and strategies in handling discipline among children.

Dr S. NATHESAN,

Muar.