Sometime in the 1980’s the world went mad. There were always pockets of madness wherever you looked, but here, in Australia, the bottom dropped out of society.
Those in charge decided that corporal punishment in schools was not a good idea. Teachers could no longer chastise a student by a wrap over the knuckles with a ruler. The Headmaster was no longer allowed to give an uncontrollable student a few welts on the backside with the dreaded cane.
I had just left school when they brought an end to this, but I could see what was going to happen.
No longer deterred from their socially unacceptable behaviour, those students inclined to misbehave now had nothing to fear. The teachers could yell at them, but words can’t hurt you. As time went on students realised they could behave however they pleased without any fear of repercussions. They could physically assault those there to teach them, knowing that if the teacher was to retaliate he or she would have many difficult question to answer.
People are not stupid. They will soon look at things from a personal perspective, without considering the views or feelings of others. The question they will ask themselves is, “What can I get away with?” or “How do I profit from this?”
If there is nothing there to stop and make them think about what they are doing they will take the opportunity to profit from, or to at least make things easier for themselves.
How often now do you here a criminal offering excuse after excuse for committing his crimes? Blame it on drug addiction, alcoholism, abusive upbringing or a dysfunctional family. I don’t doubt that these are all influencing factors, but they are not excuses. What happened to accountability? Why is it always someone else’s fault?
Everyone has a choice, no matter your social standing or upbringing.
Consider this true, real life scenario.
A career criminal is released on parole. This is the fifth occasion in less than a year that the parole board has deemed this man suitable for release on parole, despite the fact that on the last four occasions he has breached his parole conditions. On every occasion he has attempted to evade police, either by running or hiding. Police have wasted many hours locating and arresting him. Breaches include consuming alcohol and drugs whilst on parole, changing his address without permission, refusing to attend compulsory appointments, and committing further offences.
He said after his arrest the fifth time that he repeatedly breaches because nothing happens to him. His sentence is not extended and he does not lose any privileges in jail. No deterrent.
He said that it’s not his fault that he takes drugs. His partner and their friends come around and offer him both and he can’t resist it. It’s not his fault he had to change his address; his partner was being unreasonable and he couldn’t live there. It’s not his fault he didn’t attend the appointments, he had no way of getting to them. It’s not his fault he committed further offences; he had no money so he had to rob that service station. No accountability.
This is not an isolated case.
Most people know right from wrong. It is there choice what path they take. If they take the wrong one then accept the consequences. If those consequences are harsh maybe they will select the other path next time temptation calls.
Maybe it is as simple as that. Maybe we are making things far more complicated than they have to be.
Consider this, another real scenario.
At a primary school, a large 8 year old has 6 (that’s right – 6) staff members at bay. He is holding a compass out in front of him and stating he will stab anyone who comes near him. All staff members are talking softly to him with such comments, “now put the compass down please”, “it’s think time now” and “I can see that you are angry”. The child is not even listening. He is calling them some very colourful names instead.
The police arrive, take one look at the situation, walk over to the child, grab his wrist, twist it and he drops the compass. The child yelps in pain and is dragged over to a chair and unceremoniously dumped into it. The same police officer tells him to be quiet in no uncertain terms before talking to him for over an hour regarding his behaviour. At first the kid is angry and reluctant to talk but before long he is talking freely.
A complete lack of discipline and a complete lack of respect for his teachers was the problem here. Nothing more. He was a smart kid and knew he would get away with. He knew they couldn’t touch him and he was playing up for the rest of the class. He never acted up to this extent again. I wonder if he would have attempted such an act if he knew he the result would be a couple of strokes with the cane. I doubt it.
The community and society as a whole needs to stop the melancholy surrounding anti social behaviour. It does not have to be a complicated solution. Something that would deter people and hold them accountable for their own actions would be a good starting point. I know, how about corporal punishment in schools.