‘We must find better ways to discipline our children’

THE BAHAMAS Children’s Emergency Hostel. Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff

THE BAHAMAS Children’s Emergency Hostel. Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff


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.


DaGoobs 2 years, 10 months ago

I grew up under the concept "spare the rod, spoil the child". My parents meted out corporal punishment and so did my schools and I don't see where it has adversely affected me. The difference might be, as father always said, you don't beat a child while angry. When he punished us, he would tell us we were getting 3 whacks or 6 whacks with his belt and that was the end of it. Same thing at school, although it might be as high as 10 strokes of the cane, but it was either across the wrist or across the buttocks and it was because you had done something that warranted punishment. I asked my adult daughter the other day if she recalls me ever beating her while she was a child. She said no, although she did remember her mother beating her a few times. However, what we saw on TV the other night was was just wanton abuse, most of which seemed to be carried out in a fit of anger. I have never seen an incident of what I will call a group beating where other adults are holding children down so as to prevent them from squirming away from being beaten by another adult.


The_Oracle 2 years, 10 months ago

Lead and teach your children by example. How many adults have we seen flying off the handle, cussing and carrying on when they're not getting their own way in stores, restaurants, in public? How many children have we seen crying in public only to be told by their parent to stop crying or I'll slap you?which they then do? Yeah, that works well. How many children are simply emulating the bad behavior they see daily? How many children watch their parents break the law, steal, defraud, duck bills, etc etc etc? And how many parents actually honor their ethical and moral commitments to their children?


bahamianson 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree. To find a better way, where in the world can you find a better way that works? Name one countey where teenagers are not beating their parents, smoking dope, harassing or intimadating teachers, or killing people just for the fun of it.therw is ni better way than the biblical way, period. Everyrhing we did 50-60 years ago is better than what we do today. Our cars were stronger, our food was made with better ingredients, practically everything. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.


zemilou 2 years, 10 months ago

Adults must stop blaming children. Our children are who they are because of who we are and what our society is. They are a reflection of us and our community. As the old much-cited African proverb states: "It takes a village to raise a child." Where is our proverbial village? And to anyone with the inane response that we don't live in villages anymore, think metaphor. Met-a-phor: "a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable."


joeblow 2 years, 10 months ago

Discipline and abuse are not the same thing. The key is to avoid abuse. You can really screw up a child (or adult) with verbal abuse, even if they have never experienced corporal punishment!


hrysippus 2 years, 10 months ago

My wife and I have 4 grown children who have 7 college degrees between them, including a PhD in chemistry. None of our children were ever spanked, smacked, or physically punished. You do not need corporal punishment to successfully raise a child. Corporal punishment is inflicted by bullying parents who are ignorant of other more effective ways of disciplining their offspring.It should be made illegal in this country like it is in many civilized countries, including most recently; Scotland. And the Scots have a reputation for being among the toughest people in the world.


sheeprunner12 2 years, 10 months ago

Good for you .......... and we are not Scotland ......... We came from plantations

But I agree ......... Corporal punishment is the biggest lie used by our very religious country ........... Abuse & God used in the same sentence.


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