INDISCIPLINE: History proves that violence breeds violence

Thursday, June 21, 2012

THOSE who think caning is an acceptable form of punishment for children should read the story of James Bulger.

James Bulger was a toddler from Liverpool, England, who on Feb 12, 1993 was abducted from a shopping mall, while his mother was distracted and brutally killed.

What was shocking was that those who committed the murder were children themselves, and only 10 years old.

The court was lenient and sentenced the two to only eight years in detention each. Another factor that might have influenced its decision was the abusive background the child offenders came from.

One of them had a particularly dysfunctional family. The father beat the mother and the mother beat the children. She had six of them and hit them regularly, with her hands, a cane or any object that came her way.

While the children could have helped each other, they instead replicated their parents’ behaviour. The older children beat the younger ones, until the youngest, who was 10, had no one else to vent his frustration on. So he decided to get a friend’s help and find a target that he was sure to overpower — 2-year-old Bulger.

This story shows that the only reason why we can beat another person is because he or she is physically weaker than us. It does not matter whether a child in school has misbehaved, because neither the discipline teacher nor the principal will dare cane him if he or she were of bigger size.

Teachers and other school personnel often misbehave, too. Teachers can be late for class, they may not be prepared for the lesson, they may be unable to complete the syllabus, they may openly flaunt school rules, disrespect students and commit a myriad of other offences. Yet if the principal were to cane the teachers, they would certainly strike back.

And while the child cannot hit back, he is likely to pick on someone else for his revenge, someone weaker than him. And history will repeat itself when the child grows up and beats his own children.

Thus, violence breeds violence, from the strongest to the weakest, and from the leader to the last of his followers.

Powerful countries are seen to act in a similar way against less powerful nations.

Thus, it is perhaps not inappropriate to say that all wars begin at homes, classrooms or in schools where caning takes place.

Marisa Demori, Kuala Lumpur

Read more: INDISCIPLINE: History proves that violence breeds violence – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/indiscipline-history-proves-that-violence-breeds-violence-1.96623#ixzz1yO0I3xO2