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School CP - March 2003

The Advocate, Bridgetown, Barbados, 24 March 2003

Letters To Editor

Nothing wrong with flogging boys only

SHOULD girls be flogged at school for wrongdoing as the boys?

This was the subject of an article by Patrick Knight in the Barbados Advocate of March 6, 2003 [Not yet available -- C.F.].

The question poses whether boys and girls in the classroom should be equally treated. To my mind, a more fundamental question is raised of gender equality. For if boys and girls in all respects are equal, physically and mentally, logic dictates that in applying equal treatment, boys as well as girls should be flogged for wrongdoing.

On that assumption of gender equality, there would seem to be reason for the criticism of girls not being flogged in the school. The assumption of equality from general knowledge, however, appears invalid. Girls are generally regarded less physically robust and more delicate than boys. Hence the perception the girls should be treated differently from boys with respect to corporal punishment.

Too harsh treatment, it is perceived, could be detrimental to a greater extent to a girl than a boy. The same reason holds between a man and a woman. That is why domestic violence is condemnable. What man of good upbringing would punch a pregnant woman in her stomach!

There is also the perception that girls are of a milder disposition. Conformity seems to come natural and easily to girls. Speaking from my own experience, when I was at Harrison College, it was noticeable that of the girls attending Queen's College, practically all of them wore their school uniforms. Of the boys at Harrison College, very few indeed wore their uniforms of blazer with college crest and college tie. Are girls more disciplined than boys?

My belief is that nature has equipped girls and women with a mental disposition to cope with the problems peculiar to their gender of a maternal nature - giving birth to children, and nurturing them at least during infancy. A boy seems to lack that natural discipline and has to have discipline imposed more rigidly by society. It is therefore arguable that it is indefensible to apply the same form of punishment, flogging, to boys as well as girls.

While appreciating the desire by many to achieve gender equality, it should be asked: is equality in all instances necessarily to the benefit of society? Turning women into carbon-copy men is not, in my opinion, enhancing the intrinsic qualities of women.

Excessive assertiveness and aggressiveness in an attempt to imitate men would defeat the sublimating qualities which specifically connotes being a woman.

Indeed, equality between the genders should aim at raising society to a higher level of civilisation. The special qualities of men and of women should combine to that effect. Different treatment given to girls as against boys should be one of the high points of Western civilisation; a good, not an evil. Flogging boys may be open to question as to its benefits as a disciplinary measure, but undoubtedly an inappropriate discipline for girls. The natural disposition of women to be less aggressive than men should not be undermined in early girlhood by the aggressive application of flogging in school.

Co-education, admittedly, makes it difficult to administer a different form of punishment less severe to girls than to boys. This article is intended to be restricted to the secondary school level when adolescence increases sensitivity to difference between the treatment between boys and girls.

At the primary school level, however, in my view, before adolescence boys and girls are less sensitive to gender differences. Consequently impartial treatment in primary schools in punishment including flogging not inappropriate.


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Copyright Colin Farrell 2003
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