.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Teaching violence

Two recent incidents in the news in Thailand have been getting a few comments in online forums.

First a teacher was charged for caning students. A student filmed the act on his mobile-phone camera. The film showed the teacher, who really looked like he was enjoying it, swinging the cane wildly before bringing it down on each boy's bottom. There were also shots showing the bruises left by the caning. The students' crime? Their dormitory rooms were untidy.

In a separate incident, a nine-year-old boy was shot dead while leaving a Bangkok bus on his way to school. There was apparently a gang war between students from two different schools and this unfortunate kid got in the way.

Some of the forum posters suggested that the reason there are gang wars is that there is not enough discipline and that kids should be caned more to make them behave themselves. I disagree strongly and would like to explain why.

I believe that one of the most powerful teaching tools is demonstration, ie kids learn from what is demonstrated to them at home and in the world at large. This has been shown, for example, with literacy. There has been much research to show that children who come from homes where parents are seen to read and write regularly are more likely to do well at reading and writing tasks at school.

I believe that if we want to stop this gang warfare that occurs in Australia, perhaps as much as in Thailand, we need to ask what we demonstrate to our children about the use of violence.

If we demonstrate that when we have a problem with someone, we smack them or beat them then the child grows up believing that violence is a way to solve problems.

If we demonstrate that we can exert our power over another who is smaller than us, the child grows up looking for smaller or weaker people to bully.

If we demonstrate that we are more powerful because we have a weapon, the child who wants to be powerful will be looking to acquire weapons.

If we sit at home with our children watching movies where violence is seen as a solution to a problem, the children are learning that violence is the best solution to problems.

If our children watch the news every night and see people with shirts of one colour or another challenging authority with violence then they may grow up believing that they have a right to use violence to get their needs met.

On the other hand, if we demonstrate that we can have rational discussions with our children; that we can set clear boundaries so they know what they should and shouldn't do; that there are rewards and punishments that are fair and understood and administered fairly and consistently then there is some hope that our children will inherit a peaceful society where one can catch a bus without the fear of being shot.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?