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Activist on outlawing ‘licks’ in homes: That’s not the way to go

Friday, April 25, 2014

Legislation to outlaw corporal punishment against children in homes may not be the appropriate measure to deal with acts of violence against children, says activist Hazel Brown. Brown, in a telephone interview yesterday, said while it was the responsibility of the Prime Minister to determine the course of action, what was needed may be a conversation on the rights of the child. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said on Wednesday she would look at legislation dealing with corporal punishment in homes. Legislation to outlaw corporal punishment in schools is yet to be proclaimed. 


Corporal punishment in the home has been outlawed in over 30 countries, though not in any Caribbean states. Persad-Bissessar’s statement followed the release of video footage on Facebook of a mother repeatedly lashing out at her daughter with a belt, while using obscene language, over her inappropriate use of social media. The incident has drawn public outcry with commentators split between support of the mother’s tactics and outrage over what they saw as abuse. “I don’t believe that legislation would deal with the problem,” Brown said.
She felt the mother’s response to the situation was an indication of the “poor and inappropriate” parenting in T&T. “Children are learning that if you have a problem, the way to deal with it is with violence. That message must change,” she added.


Brown said the fact that members of the public supported the video meant that something was wrong with the country. “That woman is not a model parent for anybody.“I feel sorry for both the woman and her child. I think it’s very sad. The mother, child and other children need help,” she added. The mother, Helen Bartlett, has defended her treatment of her daughter. In an interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday she admitted to no wrongdoing but said she wanted the incident to be forgotten. “I just need this to go away. I disciplined her (the 12-year-old daughter) and it was the best way I saw fit as a mother,” Bartlett said. Gareth Lalla, an executive member of the Single Fathers Association of T&T, said members of his association had varying views on the subject. He added, however, his view was that corporal punishment in any form had a negative impact on children. “It is very necessary to discipline your children but what disciplinary measures you choose to take is important. “I feel that people make mistakes and prefer to act out in frustration rather than trying to correct their errors,” he said.



Special tonight on CNC 3

Be sure to tune in to CNC 3 at 8 pm for a one-hour special examining the issue of corporal punishment. The panel, hosted by Francesca Hawkins, includes criminologist Renee Cummings and pastor Clive Dottin, who will explore the pros and cons on the issue. Viewers will get a chance to join the discussion



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