Ask Bajan Mom: Corporal Punishment
Q: Dear Bajan Mom, could you do an article on corporal punishment? I was told that children still get ‘lashes’ in Barbados. I have never laid a hand on my son and I am very concerned about how it would affect him if or when I return to the island. Say No To Beatings
A: Dear Say No To Beatings,
I understand your concerns. It is not an easy thing to place your child in someone else’s hands, moreover, when their values and modes of care may differ from your own. Yes, what you have heard is true, corporal punishment still exists in Barbadian schools, but it is not the first course of action as it was in days of yore.
The days of the classroom teacher beating children at will have dissipated. Only senior teachers and principals are allowed to administer the rod so the child is not spoiled. From what I understand, even when disciplinary problems are brought to senior management, the behavior must be especially egregious for the right to lash to be exercised. Some senior educators have become more sensitive to a nurturing approach to discipline, and Barbadians are more litigious than they once were, so an air of caution exists.
It would be remiss of me not to add that we as parents have a responsibility to raise our children in such a way that they do not end up in front of the principal for punitive reasons. Well-behaved, respectful children tend to avoid corporal punishment; this is not to say that injustice may never occur.
The parent-teacher relationship should be a collaborative one. Get to know your child’s new principal and class teacher well. That way, if a troubling issue arises, it is more likely that they would seek your input as the first approach instead of using the methods that you dread.