A smack on the bum doesn’t hurt

2011-04-27 00:00

I WAS enormously surprised to see the results of a recent News24.com poll showing that a massive majority of the almost 20 000 South Africans who took part in a survey on corporal punishment in school actually felt it should be reintroduced.

Surprising because I have been under the impression that South Africa is becoming a

nanny state with so many parents wanting the government to keep passing laws so that they don't have the hassle of having to bring up or take responsibility for their children.

I expected the vote to be vastly in favour of those who believe that corporal punishment in schools is barbaric and should remain illegal.

However, only a tiny minority of nine percent voted this way. Of the rest, 37% felt that corporal punishment was a good way of maintaining discipline and a massive 55% felt that it was

acceptable, in moderation.

Now, I am one of those wrinklies who grew up in an era when corporal punishment was acceptable in schools and if we did wrong we would get cuts on our backsides with a cane or with a leather strap on our hands.

My father had this fancy horsewhip that he would take to our bums when we stepped out of line.

As I believe I have grown up as a well-adjusted and responsible adult and loved my father dearly until the day he died without ever having resented his use of a horsewhip, I have never understood why corporal punishment was stopped.

Sure, a small minority of teachers went too far, but why stop a great form of discipline to the detriment of millions of children just because a few dozen were abused?

And I firmly believe that those children who were abused through corporal punishment at school or by their parents would have been abused anyway — rules or no rules.

Sometimes abuse does not have to take the form of anything physical, but can be in an even worse form — psychological.

Interestingly, about six years ago, when my youngest son was just finishing matric, the entire high school conducted a survey on corporal punishment. This was initiated by the pupils themselves. The result was that more than 95% of them voted for the return of corporal punishment.

I am one of those people who believe that corporal punishment in moderation — a smack on the bum just hard enough to sting, but not to enough bring tears to the eyes — is essential in terms of disciplining children. I was brought up that way and my four children were brought up that way.

Nothing will persuade me

otherwise because I have seen far too many instances of delinquency, drug abuse and crime among children from families where parents spared the rod and decided instead to engage with their children in conversation regarding right and wrong.

With the best will in the world, children do not react to being engaged in conversation because children don't stick to the rules.

If children can get away with being naughty, they will. That is the very nature of children. They will eat too many sweets, they will get into fights and they will tease or bully each other. Children can be very nasty when they want to. They are not known for their tact or sense of fair play. And people who genuinely believe that their offspring are little angels all day and

every day just aren't taking the time to see what's happening behind their backs.

All children need discipline. Having a quiet chat with a five- year-old is not discipline.

So, I am delighted to see that all but nine percent of the News24.com readers actually agree with me.

Maybe we're not becoming a namby-pamby nanny state after all. — News 24

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