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Child discipline has become something of a burning issue over the past few weeks, after the Ministry of Education opted to abolish corporal punishment in the school system. This decision was motivated by the acknowledgement that corporal punishment creates the opportunity for teachers and caregivers to use excessive force. This is not to say that all adults lack self-control, but that those who do tend to use discipline as an excuse to abuse or assault youths. Furthermore, corporal punishment is difficult to regulate because every disciplinarian has a completely subjective idea of where to draw the line.


In spite of these dangers, however, it cannot be denied that a small portion of our youth is not being disciplined at all in the home. Due to the absence or negligence of their caregivers, these children are free to wreak havoc upon whoever crosses their path. Who, then, takes responsibility for these misguided youths? The concept of hitting other people’s children is not new to our culture, which encourages all adults in a child’s life to take on a parental role. Brothers keep their nephews and nieces in line, grandparents look out for their grandchildren and so forth. This has been so for generations.


Surveys of women and children in low- and middle-income countries found that, despite decades of efforts to educate caregivers about the dangers of using physical violence on children, hundreds of millions of 2-  4-year-olds were still being exposed to aggressive physical and psychological discipline. In modern times, the unspoken rule is that adults should do their best to refrain from beating children that aren’t theirs. But when parents are not available to make such decisions, the line becomes somewhat blurry. I am not encouraging the nation to take up arms against unruly children; I am, however, reminding mums and dads that this is a highly unpredictable world – something I thought no parents need to be reminded of.

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