A timely warning for all of us

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

The warning from the Police about the need for teachers to refrain from smacking students as a way of disciplining them is a timely reminder.

The fact is there are many School Principals and Teachers who don’t need to be reminded because they know their roles and where to draw the line when it comes to the issues. 

Unfortunately as we have seen time and time again over the years, there are also teachers who conveniently forget. Which is why it always doesn’t hurt to be reminded now and then, especially with a new school year just getting started. 

This time the reminder comes from Police Senior Sergeant Samia Iosua Samia who didn’t mince words.

 “Assault is assault and there is no other way to look at it. The Police does not tolerate nor condone this type of behavior, against our children,” he said.

“This practice is prohibited under the Crimes Act.”

He then goes on to spell it out. Listen: “Under the Crimes Act, assault is defined as touching, raping, hitting, collaring, slapping, pushing, throwing an object and kicking.” 

Well that’s pretty clear, isn’t it? It’s self-explanatory. 

And yet those lines are blurred all the time on these shores, especially in some rural villages where some teachers see it as a human right to slap the living daylight out of students – sometimes for sheer pleasure.

This has got to stop.

Now according to Sergeant Samia, teachers need to find other methods of disciplining students, pointing out that teachers should have special skills to deal with the students.

 “Teachers should be able to handle any situation that arises and not lean on disciplinary measures always when encountering an issue that calls for the need to discipline a student.

“Being a teacher means that you are well equipped mentally to deal with any issue and it is a gift that only teachers possess.” 

Senior Sergeant Samia added that teachers who resort only to violence show they lack patience and preparations.

 “Some teachers have issues at home and they tend to bring them to school. I urge you to get a hold of yourself. You as a teacher must check yourself before entering the classroom.”

Keep in mind that the work of teachers, students and parents go hand in hand. The teachers have a job to do but disciplining students should be the least of their worries. This should be the job of the parents and caregivers which is part of their contribution to the upbringing of the child.

Which brings us to a point we’ve made before and we want to highlight again because we believe this is very relevant to this conversation. Discipline comes from the word disciple. The art of discipleship in a nutshell is to follow the examples set for us. 

When it comes to children, we believe discipline is not the job of teachers and the education system. That is the job of parents and families at home where attitudes and behaviour should be shaped.

The problem we’ve seen is that when the job of discipline is left to teachers, they do not know where to stop. A slap turns into a whack. 

A simple cane suddenly changes to a 4x4 piece of wood so that discipline becomes an all out assault. We have seen this happen before.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe, like all Christian parents, that there is a place for discipline. The concept of spare the rod spoil the child should not be ignored either.

But discipline means a lot more than smacking our children. It means a lot more than the rod and the cane. 

It means to spend quality moments with them, communicate with them, love them and tell them why we do the things we do. 

If we have to slap them on the wrist, it’s got to be done with love.

We’ve seen cases of parents whack their young toddlers across the face in the name of love and discipline. That is not discipline, it is assault and they should be held accountable for it by the law.

Charity begins at home. If children are brought up in a peaceful environment and taught the right lessons about discipline — including those verses from the Bible about love, respect and good behaviour -— they will find it very hard to stray from it.

The truth is that it’s not the teacher’s job to nurture and instill good behaviour. 

Their job is to teach our children what is in the curriculum and give them the best opportunity at getting ahead in life. 

It’s the parents, families, churches and villages’ job to raise children and instill values and good behaviour. 

Let’s do our jobs and let’s help teachers bring the best out of our students. 

Have a wonderful Thursday Samoa, God bless! 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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