THE BAHAMAS Children’s Emergency Hostel. Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
A LOCAL therapist believes when it comes to raising children, parents and guardians should avoid using corporal punishment as a form of discipline.
In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, cognitive behavioural therapist Harrison Thompson said while corporal punishment has been used in the country for years, the time has come to find other ways to teach children valuable lessons.
“We recognise that corporal punishment has been used for years in this country,” he said Mr Thompson.
“In the past it was used on the basis of fear. It could change your behaviour if you fear what is going to happen to you. That works until that child gets older, until they start to grow and they get bigger and are the disciplinarian and there’s no need to fear and once you remove the element of fear that child reverts back to doing whatever they want to do in the first place.
“We need to get back to discipline being based on respect and understanding because we want to create a culture of understanding why and when we make punishment out of anger the goal, you remove the why and without that why, children are not able to connect why they are getting the outcome they are getting.
“So, I think we need to find a way to deviate from corporal punishment and physical forms of punishment and we need to become more involved with our children so that punishment is not needed in the first place.”
Mr Thompson compared what transpired in the video of children being beaten at the emergency children’s home in Nassau to a “gladiator ring”.
“In the beginning I said it seems like a pretty typical experience that I would even recall from my primary school days, but as I continued to watch the video it got worse and worse and worse and it almost began to seem like a gladiator ring and these teachers, there guardians are just waiting to get a piece of the pie.
“It seemed to be less about discipline and more about enacting anger and that really disturbed me because when parents and guardians start disciplining children out of anger, they remove the lesson out of the discipline and all that child remembers is pain and that’s how we birth trauma.”
He added: “I don’t think it helps because these are problems that don’t necessarily start in the school they start in the home, but because there is not enough dynamic parenting in the home it’s a bottleneck that piles up in the school and so teachers aren’t free to teach. Teachers have to be parents. Teachers have to be counsellors. Teachers have to be friends and eventually these teachers reach their wits end as well and it creates these types of environments where we’re blurring the lines between schools being a place of education or these homes being a place of education to being a dungeon of punishment.”
Moving forward, he said, much needed to be done to reverse people’s positions in support of physical discipline, as he supported an investigation of the situation.