|How wrong is ‘belt discipline’? – May 4|
REGENERATING MORAL AND SPIRITUAL VALUES OF OUR SOCIETY
By Vernon Khelawan
Now that the dust has settled somewhat around the flogging of the 12-year-old girl by her mother and all the various reasons, causes and rationales have been expressed, it might be a good time to reflect on the entire issue and how the situation and hundreds more like it impact on the society in which we live.
We have heard from the mother and in her explanation one can actually feel deep hurt and a loud cry for help from some social organisation, public or private. But more importantly, what the incident also vividly demonstrates is a mother’s hope that she can instill in her daughter some moral and spiritual values, which obviously she recognises is fast becoming extinct in our society.
And what about daddy? The story raises the perennial problem of absentee fathers and highlights the need that children of broken relationships have for fathers who look after not only the material needs of their children but have an interest in their general well-being: fathers who are ready to support mothers where that support is required for the good of their children.
On the other hand, a news item that seemed to have escaped public view is the arrest of a 14-year-old girl in a vehicle with men twice her age, with illicit drugs and a firearm. There was no furore raised on the Internet, no questions asked about her parents. As a matter of fact there was never any mention of the parents and she is only 14 – still very much a minor. She has even been taken to court.
It would seem therefore that in Ms Bartlett’s case, this is the kind of thing she was trying to avoid by whipping her child in the hope that she too, would not one day have to appear in court crying that her daughter had gone bad. She was simply trying to save her daughter from herself.
Ms Bartlett’s action has, of course, raised the question of whether ‘belt discipline’ is appropriate today. Well, is it? No one doubts that ‘belt discipline’ has served the society well in previous generations, the result being upstanding and excellent citizens with high moral and spiritual values. On the other hand, it is true that we live in a different world with greater awareness of the needs of the human person and where people expectations are different.
Just goes to show the importance of the Third Pastoral Priority – Regenerating the Moral and Spiritual Values in our Society – as it applies to Trinidad and Tobago.