It's not the cane that matters, but the right essentials of bringing up children
WHEN the current generation of parents and grandparents look back to their schooling years and the halcyon days of their childhood, the ones who turned out all right will see a time when school indiscipline was not a very serious issue; when children were generally well behaved; and when teachers took the responsibility of being in loco parentis (standing in for the parents) seriously.
Teachers were good, but firm; and if or when children misbehaved, it was because they were naughty, not bad. Those who turned out all right will recall (with relish) how the school meted out "six of the best" -- public canings in front of the entire school -- and how no one was any the worse for it.
And so, it is probably in this nostalgic light that the National Parent-Teacher Association has asked the government to bring back caning in schools. Public caning was banned in 2004 and limited to only the head teacher or teachers specifically authorised by the head teacher to mete out caning. The National PTA wants caning to be extended to ordinary teachers, who would wield the cane as and when the need arises. And, they want parents to also be allowed to cane their children at home. So far, the law minister has dismissed the idea, on the grounds that it would be a regressive move.
Many forget that caning was not the be-all and end-all of discipline. It was a small part of the whole of bringing up a child; for caning means nothing if the child has not been taught correct behaviour, and has no good role models in life. It was a sign of severe disapproval from a person who was already very well respected.
Yet, wielding a cane did not give a teacher or a parent authority or respect; that was something that had to be earned in that person's capacity as a parent, an educator and a human being. In the happy past, parents and teachers were a cohesive tag-team when it came to bringing up and disciplining children. In fact, many children who were caned in school were then caned again when they got home, as punishment for being caned in school. But if children turned out all right, it was not because of the cane; rather, it was because there were people in those children's lives who cared enough to take corrective action when the children strayed.
And, most of the time, the corrective action was not caning, which was only the last resort. So, before reminiscing further on the alleged effectiveness of caning, people should first consider on what the essential elements of bringing up a child properly are, and whether these have been met.
Source: New Straits Times Editorial 03 June 2012