I’M referring to the video, which went viral recently, of a mother of a secondary schoolgirl questioning a teacher for caning her daughter, and the report “Yes! It’s all right to rotan the kids!” (The Star, July 7). Sadly, my views seem to represent the minority.
In my opinion, the degree and severity of the 13-year-old schoolgirl’s punishment is way out of proportion to her action. Caning a child multiple times until there are marks and breaks in the skin amounts to physical violence and should never be accepted nor normalised.
A teacher’s responsibility is to teach, not punish. I absolutely agree that discipline ought to be taught and enforced in schools, but there are means of enforcing firm boundaries in an educational way without having to resort to physical violence.
Even those who commit criminal offences are dealt with under the criminal justice system. They are tried in a court of law before receiving sentences such as caning. They undergo a fair trial to see if they deserve such punishments.
Why do adults who commit criminal offences have greater rights than school children who misbehave?
Surely one can see that if caning is allowed and normalised in schools, it can be a slippery slope for authoritative figures to abuse their power on those who are less powerful, like children.
Teachers are human beings too. We are all capable of abuse of power without proper checks and balances. This is why teachers ought to follow SOPs when dealing with disciplinary issues – to safeguard themselves and the children.
Obviously not all teachers react impulsively or emotionally to children who misbehave. Most teachers don’t allow their emotions to cloud their judgment in such situations.
One must recognise that children are inherently more vulnerable than adults. Not only are they physically smaller and weaker than most adults, they are also still in stages of psychological development.
The mind of a 13-year-old is not the same as that of a 20-year-old. Plus, the pain tolerance of an adult is arguably greater than that of a child, yet one would not dare to resort to caning an adult student in a college or university, for example.
School teachers have a duty of care to safeguard their students, and not to inflict pain. There are other ways to teach this 13-year-old schoolgirl, whose brain is still developing, that the way she acted and behaved was wrong.
Involving families in educating the child is important. Caning, alongside other forms of physically and emotionally painful punishments, is not the answer.
Bandar Kinrara, Puchong
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