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RULER   :  Archive   :  1997   :  JM Schools Jan 1997


School CP - January 1997

Corpun file 0702 at

Jamaica Gleaner, Kingston, 30 January 1997

Corporal punishment

By Morris Cargill

I NEVER quite know what people have in mind when they refer to corporal punishment in schools. I suppose it means different things to different people.

If by corporal punishment is meant severe flogging as used to be administered many years ago by the sadistic Wagger Harrison of Munro College, then I certainly think that it should not be permitted. On the other hand I see nothing particularly wrong with the kind of regulation "four of the best" caning which was standard practice at most boarding schools for boys.

To hear some people, you'd think that a caning causes students to develop everything from neuroses to murderous tendencies. I do not believe that the world has produced a new breed of boys so fundamentally unstable that a sore behind for a few days is likely to unhinge them. In any case, I've suffered that sort of caning in my own youth, once from my father, once at Munro and once at my English Public School, and as far as I know developed no tendency to violence. This is true of countless young men of my generation. Indeed, we preferred a caning to being kept in writing lots of lines. It got our punishment over quickly even though rather painfully.

It seems to me that what produces violence in the young is the world in which they now live, including violent films and TV shows and the value system that seems to prevail. A lot of what comes over TV is enough to derange anyone, anyway. It seems to be, therefore that those who express their indignation about a reasonable caning would be better employed considering the false values of the television shows they appear to encourage young people to watch.

- Morris Cargill is the Gleaner's senior columnist, and has been writing for more than 45 years.

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