07 October, 2009


Corporal punishment is purely pragmatic.  It is intended to make the cost of law-breaking exceed the benefits.  Modern punishments for children and for adults reinforce the notion that there is no punishment that will deter a determined offender.  In today’s Anguilla following the rules is a matter of choice, and is the norm only for very well brought up persons.  Hooligans have the option to ignore the rules.  There are no consequences of any significance.

When I was a school boy, caning day involved the entire school body assembling to witness the canings that were to be delivered in public.  Our school children were mischievous as ever.  But, we were safer than today.  Violent boys met a violent punishment.  Violent adults were the exception, not the norm.

By contrast today, when the sissifyication of education is almost complete, disorder in school has become the norm.  There are no consequences for the use by children of obscene or disrespectful language.  Teaching is often impossible.  Teachers hide in the common room, afraid to confront violent and uncontrollable kids.  Some even side with a disorderly child, particularly if he has a belligerent parent.  A teacher using force to stop an assault is likely to be interviewed by the police, and punished for having employed unauthorized corporal punishment. 

Singapore does not have a problem with indiscipline in school.  What follows is a video of a school boy being punished for breaking the rules.

I don’t think either he or any of the other students were likely to treat breaking rules lightly.  For a few weeks at least, until the memory wore off.

Singapore does not have a problem with drunk driving.  What follows is the punishment that was awarded to one first offender.  Not everyone will have the stomach to see it through to the end.

I shudder to think what the punishment could be for a second offence.  I suppose that is the point.  There is never any second offence.  And, the cost to the tax payer of such a penal system is little or nothing.

The pros and cons of corporal punishment for adults have been debated for years. 

All in all, I think the pros win.  Imprisonment is the barbaric, dehumanising and counterproductive punishment.

I advocate corporal punishment in school and in the court system as an alternative.


  1. The West Indian attitude to corporal punishment is interesting to say the least. When on holiday in Barbados last year, a tour guide was boasting about how caning kept the kids well behaved. I supppose that's why almost every young man there was intent on selling me marijuana and crack cocaine. I suppose that also explains the high levels of assault against teachers in the West Indies. Haven;t there even been one or two cases (the Bahamas seems to spring to mind) where students have mysteriously died after canings?

  2. I commend you for putting these controversial videos and your support for this kind of punishment on your blog. I am afraid that it is too late to institute this kind of punishment in our schools. Any teacher that performed this kind of punishment on one of the hooligan students at our schools would probably be found shot or stabbed the next day. Our youth is that out of control. I feel that as we have lost one or two generations already to this behavior, maybe we can try and save the one just entering the school system. I don't believe that violence is the solution to violence. However we should make certain behavior illegal at an earlier age. Students that are 13 and up could be held legally accountable for certain kinds of behavior and have to pay fines or risk being sent to behavior modification classes held by the police or jail guard officers. Of course that would need funding, which is very hard to come by these days.

  3. There is something pathetically wrong when one must resort to a demeaning, shaming, embarrassing, and worst of all, violent method of physical abuse.
    The only thing it can accomplish besides resentment and anger is the message that corporal punishment is a viable way to settle problems.
    Not a very wonderful quality to instill in our young ones.

  4. Don:

    I am sympathetic to your sensibilities 9 times out of 10 (which proves you must not be too bright if we agree that often). But we part company on caning (unless your piece is really--a la Jonathon Swift--a "Modest Proposal").

    Do we cane before or after adjudicating guilt? Do you endorse caning in lieu of due process or "merely" as punishment? Do you endorse permitting any insignificant authority figure--teacher, police officer, or clergyman--to flail away at whim? Or after some proof of wrong-doing?

    That our constitutional government does not yield "perfect order" does not mean that we should abdicate all freedoms for "law-and-order." The repressive regimes that pride themselves on not "sparing the rod" have plenty of problems...it's just that their presses are not free enough to report on them.

    And--if caning were permitted--wouldn't you (and your "smart mouth")be the first flailed?

    I look forward to your next 9 positions when--doubtlessly--we will again agree. Keep fighting the good fight.

  5. A new low for your great blog.

  6. Just as I suspected the 'anonymous' bloggers on this site are showing their true colours with this post. We can go back and forth about whether or not caning is effective or not, but all I can say is that it seemed to work in the past. And we can't fault west indians for this, it came with slavery and christianity or I should say a misrepresentation of a tiny proverb. I know some are going to say here we go again 'blame it all on slavery', but if you understand pyschology you will understand it is not just some simple excuse we as a black community like to throw out there. That being said, we have to start to remove those mental chains and move forward, which is easier said than done...

    Secondly, we talk about the problem with our children in the schools as if it is acrossed the board. If you look carefully it is probably less than 10 percent (or even 5) of the children in the schools causing all the havoc. This problem then move from the schools to the wider society as the child grows older and leaves school.

    The problem starts from home and it is only magnified when we see the early warnings and we don't do anything about it. A child all of sudden does not wake up one day and decides to be bad. You probably can see the signs from pre-school, but mostly primary school, and if nothing is done about it then, it is no surprise that we can't do much about it when that particular child reaches the secondary school system.

    We all, meaning society, but especially parents have to play our part, and when we as parents or guardians are not doing what we should do, then the Government should step in to assist. I can't even say the church, because that instituition has also lost its way in our society.

    We need a Government who really has Anguilla at heart, to attack this problem with the precision and planning of a well accomplished army general. One party in particular had almost ten years to deal with the problem and it has gotten worst under their watch. Need I say more?

  7. It is a sad day when we conclude that we can't instill respect and interest in our school children except by means of corporal punishment. Good teachers who are supported by interested parents don't need the cane to develop young minds.

    A great blog, but this time you got it wrong.

  8. I suppose another thing we may consider, which I'm sure you'll appreciate from your legal background. Judicially imposed corporal punishment brings with it the serious risk of large payouts courtesy of the taxpayer should the person be proven innocent or be seriously injured/die during the punishment process. This has happened in Singapore and Malyasia for example.

  9. My son attended primary school for a while in Anguilla. It was regular practice for the ruler, or a leather belt, to be applied across the knuckles for every misspelled word. That did not improve his spelling very much. It is interesting to me that "corporal punishment is not allowed" in Anguilla schools. Is it just older kids that are not subject to corporal punishment? I did not approve of the knuckle spankings for misspelled words then, nor do I now.

    As a mother, I was aware when the time came that spanking a son was counter-productive. I do not trust that a non-parent, be he (or she) teacher, police officer, or officer of the court system, would have the same awareness.

    My granddaughter (now in primary, but soon to be of age for secondary) FEARS going to secondary school because of the violence that goes on there. That is a real indictment of the state of Anguilla public education. If there is no safety in the public school, maybe it should be shut down.

    Perhaps, like a phoenix, something will rise from the ashes. Problem is: that could be better, or that could be worse.

    Something needs to be done. Parents need to unite to demand better situation. In the end, they are the only ones who can. Obviously, the politicians can't be trusted.

  10. Corporal punishment imposed by an authorised officer of the school is an appropriate punishment for unruly children, particularly boys. It does no permanent physical or emotional harm. It is consistent with the normal rough, even cruel behaviour of boys. It contributes to instilling a sense of justice and respect for good behaviour. It is less harmful than the present system of indiscipline. It should be viewed as society's equivalent of the sharp pain a child feels the first time he puts his hand near a naked flame. The vast majority of schoolchildren who are caned become good citizens. The minority who do not benefit cannot be saved from a life of anti-social behavior anyway. The majority of schoolchildren who are not physically punished for breaking the rules become spoiled and self-centered.

    In those islands where it is still on the books, caning of criminals is a healthy and preferred punishment. Both prisoners and penal authorities request it remain on the books. In our overcrowded prisons, homosexual activity, including multiple rape, is commonplace. Any judge sentencing a youth to a term of imprisonment where caning is available as an alternative is illegally imposing a death sentence from HIV. Caning is a short, sharp shock of a punishment. It does no permanent harm, and contributes to inducing a healthy respect for law. Standard alternative forms of punishment are far more cruel and inhuman. I could give examples, but they are all set out in the literature which is easily available to anyone with Google.

    I don't mind being unfashionable on this issue, although I realise that it may be too late for reason and good sense to prevail.

  11. Do not spare the rod to save the child.

  12. One is frequently told of the immense success of the Singapore Model. The Economic success, the Social harmony, the clean streets and ordered layout, the reduced crime rate and drug usage. Sounds like Utopia.

    Did one not also smile with the International furore that exploded when the American youngster was sentenced to be flogged for spray-painting graffitti.
    Wanna bet he thinks twice about defiling public property.

    Why have the school do the caning. Read an Emergency Act: appoint an officer to conduct the caning. Apoint me . Just as the children would know who I am, so would i know who they are and who the Parents are.

    Yet there is a flip side to this. There MUST be progams set in place besides Maths and Chemisstry, for those diffrerntly interested and abled.
    The carrot or stick approach never worked efficiently, in the long run. The astute Use of both tools, have always yielded sensible products.
    There has never been a tool used by mankind thay could not be abused.
    CaribbeanMan ;-)

  13. I go further in my response to this blog and the comments made.
    Teachers in the public system do not have the choice of whether the child has an interested parent or not.
    Their job, generally, is to control 30 odd studrnts of various backgrounds, needs and modes of behaviour. Some respond to a soft word, some a firm word, a detention and some a flogging. Others, the involvement of the parents may bring them round.
    Through it all, firm gudelines must be set,posted and adhered to.
    It may be preferable to enlist the soft word as the tool of choice but the entire gamut of tools must be held in the tool chest and used as the occasion deems fit.
    Through it all a measure of leniency must be applied where it may yield benefits to the student to do so.

  14. It would surprise me to learn that you were not caned yourself at some point as a child.

  15. As I said Don, maybe too late for this one but not for the upcoming one.

  16. Well, I commend your bravery, Don.

    Surely there must be studies of some sort, as opposed to emotional outbursts.

    I had the strap as a child in school, was spanked at home when bad. It DID make me think twice.

    And, as far as I can tell, the damage to my psyche was minimal. The best news of all...

    I get out of jail in a year. Then I'll hunt them all down. ;-)

    Seriously, aren't there studies about this?

    Congrats for taking a stance on an issue that some have closed their minds so firmly upon, without any data to base that upon (they'll say "they don't need data"), that you get some of the type of comments we've seen here.


  17. Penalties

    First Time – Drink driver will be fined between $1000/- and $5000/- or six months imprisonment.


    Offenders causing death or serious injuries can also be caned up to 6 strokes.

    From: http://driving-in-singapore.spf.gov.sg/services/Driving_in_Singapore/Information/pressandmsg/drinkdriving.htm


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