In the event, you are not aware, #noගුටි (#noguti: translates to #nospanking) is a national campaign launched by the Stop Child Cruelty Trust with the Child Protection Alliance of Sri Lanka to promote the ban of Corporal punishment in schools. The campaign was officially launched on February 21, 2022, at the Goethe Institute in Colombo. It’s focused on legislative reformations to ban corporal punishment in schools (a plausible move!) By the looks of the campaign material, however, it seems the campaign will soon push for stopping corporal punishment in the home also. I don’t have a problem with banning corporal punishment in schools, but I do have a problem with banning it in homes if the campaign ultimately comes to that. In today’s blog post I want to share with you four serious issues I am seeing with the #noගුටි (#nospanking) campaign and the legislative reformations it’s demanding if it ever pushes for banning corporal punishment at home.
Spanking is not Child Cruelty
I do not know whether it’s just me or the Stop Child Cruelty Trust is mixing Apples with Oranges because spanking and child cruelty isn’t the same. Was my father being cruel to his children every time he spanked them? No, he was not! Even the dictionary defines child cruelty and spanking differently. It defines child cruelty as “any form of maltreatment by an adult, which is violent or threatening for the child” but spanking as “an act of slapping, especially on the buttocks as a punishment for children.” Mixing these definitions generate an inaccurate picture of discipline.
Spanking and child cruelty are not synonyms. If it was so my father would have been a very cruel man. After all, parents don’t enjoy spanking their children. However, when all other forms of discipline have failed, some children respond promptly and totally to spanking. Parents of a strong-willed three-year-old who loves to run out into the street know they have two options: spank their child immediately to stop the dangerous behavior, or confine their child to a tightly controlled environment, which may disrupt the entire family and limit the child’s access to more enjoyable activities.
Experts and My Experience
My father has spanked me many times because I was a stiff-necked teenager bent on destruction. When I look back, I understand I am still alive because my father spanked me. For instance, my parents often warned me and educated me against smoking and the consumption of alcohol. Despite the warnings and the knowledge, I still smoked and consumed alcohol with my friends. It’s not the fear of losing control that stopped me. It was the fear of getting caught that stopped me. I would have been an addict to much worse substances had my father been reluctant to spank me.
The advocates for banning corporal punishment at home frequently quote the experts on the negative effects spanking has on emotional and physical health. My father spanked me, and my siblings but we are three healthy adults today. Emotionally and physically. It’s my personal experience and no expert can call it false. Regardless of the spanks, we know our father loved us very much because he always reassured us of his love. I feel the real problem is not with spanking but how it’s done. Hence, at the end of this post, I have presented what I call a road map for spanking.
Misrepresentation of Facts
In a YouTube video for the campaign, Dr. Tush Wickramanayaka asks, “ගහලා ළමයි හදන්න පුළුවන් නම්, අපේ මහජන නියෝජිතයන් පාර්ලිමේන්තුවේදී කොයිතරම් සංවරව හැසිරිය යුතුද?” (If spanking is productive, how modest should our ministers be in Parliament?) Did you know among those MPs are gentlemen like Mr. Eran Wickramaratne whose father, I know for a fact spanked him when he was a boy. If Dr. Tush is right, how can Mr. Wickramaratne behave so well?
Another example is an article published in the Colombo Telegraph published on October 22nd, 2018. In a nutshell, it said student unrest and ragging in universities is a byproduct of people who were subject to corporal punishment as children. However, it’s no secret that a Frontline Socialist Party is more responsible for systematically stirring student unrest and encouraging ragging in our universities than corporal punishment ever will or could. [Source: Daily FT] Misrepresentation of facts is not the way to run a campaign but the campaigners of #noගුටි (#nospanking) have done that already.
noගුටි #nospaking #noplan
I don’t oppose progress. However, I oppose forcing an entirely alien concept down the throat of parents by the chunk all in the name of progress. Yes, there are 58 countries where corporal punishment is banned. Among them, 53 countries (91%) are developed countries. (Countries with a high-quality lifestyle) Children in them don’t always get exposed to drugs, prostitution, and petty crime. Hence, banning corporal punishment may not affect the upbringing of a child. Sri Lanka on the other hand is a developing country. A poor agricultural country still trying to become more advanced economically and socially even after 72 years of independence.
In Sri Lanka, there are many micro-communities in areas like Borella, Dehiwalla, Wellawatta, Mount Lavinia, Slave Island, Maradana, and Pettah. Life in these communities is not that great. They are ridden with drugs, prostitution, and petty crime. Parents living in these communities must spank their children when necessary because these neighborhoods have more influence on the children than parents themselves. Therefore, Sri Lankan society needs a long-term strategy and a plan before the legislators can even think of banning corporal punishment. Unfortunately, it’s a strategy and a plan that #noගුටි campaigners still haven’t figured out.
Now to the road map of spanking, I promised before. We cannot completely rule out the possibility of child cruelty at home because parents can treat their children with cruelty and not even know sometimes. (Ex: Gimhan Vimukthi) Still calling for a complete ban of corporal punishment is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, the legislators can regulate corporal punishment. Since Dr. Tush Wickramanayaka mentions religion was helpful in her upbringing, I would like to borrow a few principles from Judaism, that I am confident are useful for introducing regulations.
Proverbs, the second section of Tanakh encourages spanking at home and regulates it. “Discipline your child, for there is hope, but do not set your heart on causing his death.” (Proverbs 19:18) Also, Judaism encourages the use of the cane instead of the hand because the anger can subsidize while the parent reaches for the cane. In Sri Lanka, lawmakers can regulate spanking to be in proportion to the offense and spank only when all other types of punishment fail. The lawmakers can also regulate the instrument used for spanking, and the specific area of the body to receive the spanking.
I stand with #noගුටි wholeheartedly to stop corporal punishment in schools. However, I don’t and will not support banning corporal punishment in homes. Parents that is confident they can raise their children without spanking can do so while parents who think otherwise must be given the freedom to do so. After all, every Tom, Dick, Jack, and Sally cannot be allowed to tell parents how to raise their children. Ultimately, parents are responsible for raising their children to be law-abiding, honorable citizens. Therefore the choice must belong to them.
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