Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 29th 2014 Contents A43
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
By now, there s unlikely to be a single person
in T&T who is on Facebook who has not had
that video of a 12-year-old child pop up in
That s just the way that Facebook s viral
It also means that nearly everyone in
this country who s on the social media
service, and that s almost everyone who
is connected to the Internet locally, has had
an opportunity to play the clip.
Here are some things that I am clear about.
I am not that child. I am not that child s
mother. I am completely unaware of the cir-
cumstances of their lives beyond what is visible
and audible in the video clip and what the child
and her sister revealed in a subsequent video
in which they sought to offer more clarity to
In my life, however, I have twice been called
on to be the caregiver for the child of other
parents. I have brought to this challenge my
own experiences as a young person and the
things I have learned from growing up.
So let us be clear. I was hit as a child. I clearly
remember my last licking, as such punishment
interludes were called. I was in my mid-teens, and
my wrists were bound. My mother, my only parent,
beat me until she was sweating and winded.
I looked up when she seemed to be done and
asked, "Are you finished?"
"That s it," came the response. "No more strap
My punishment the next time I ran off the rails
was far worse.
I had been cultivating a particularly beautiful,
if rather fluffy afro, and I was taken to Spike, the
family barber in Belmont whom I d been avoiding
in the name of hipness to have it all trimmed off.
I am told that I stared at the mirror grimly
throughout the buzzing of his clippers and failed
to contain only a single tear.
I am a big person and I was large from quite
young. Tall at first, then beefier as my body shape
reasserted itself after an astonishing growth spurt
While getting a
licking was con-
sidered part of
the menu for dis-
cipline in my
caning in schools
was part of the
coming to terms
with the effect of
was a far more
I learned, early on, that hitting in anger and
embarrassment is all about the person doing the
hitting, not the incident.
Serious punishment for a child, like revenge, is
best served cold and parents must be ready to put
their responses in a chiller until the situation can
be handled with a suitable mix of good sense and
Here are some absolute truths about parenting.
You cannot teach what you do not know. You can-
not influence positively by behaving negatively.
You cannot inspire in an environment of despair.
You cannot guide by an example you do not set.
If anyone saw a parent trying to keep a crying
child quiet with chloroform or morphine, they
would take action, but commercial baby pacificier
solutions sold in the early 20th century were made
from those drugs and more.
Just because something appears to work doesn t
mean it should be done that way, particularly when
there is compelling information in favour of other
If we can let go of lobotomy and trepanation,
it s really not so hard to consider setting aside the
cut-ar.... as an attitude adjustment tool.
What this has sparked is a kneejerk reaction to
legislate punishment in the home. This is such a
spectacularly bad idea that I cannot begin to under-
stand how sensible people, taking a considered
position against corporal punishment, can back
it.Despite the maternal bearing of Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the State, and not just in
T&T, does a terrible job of caring for children. It
is an engine designed for governance, not rearing
and a visit to any of the institutions designed by
our Government to care for the young should make
If the State is to be moved to act in this matter,
it should do so by gathering and sharing useful
information about modern parenting, tailored for
local use and making coaching freely available for
parents in appropriately respectful and private cir-
Read an expanded version of this column online
One belt to rule
LYNDERSAY Licks, spreading like fire
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