By TK Chua
I think I am no wiser after reading the report, “Court frees teacher without acquittal”.
A teacher was charged in court for slapping a primary school student. Many among the teaching fraternity were not happy with the charge and gathered at the court to support this teacher.
The court discharged this teacher without acquittal. So far, I have not read the reasons for this decision.
I am writing this neither in support of the teacher nor the student. It is just my thoughts on school discipline and punishment and the most appropriate ways to handle such problems.
We have rules that say teachers are not supposed to physically punish students, more so if they are primary school kids.
No doubt there are naughty students. But we must all respect the rules. There will be no end to it if rules are not followed.
For example, if we allow a teacher to slap a student, when and under what circumstances can the teacher do that?
How hard must a slap be beyond which it becomes unacceptable? How many slaps can a teacher administer if one slap is deemed insufficient?
If there are naughty students, there are sick teachers too. We cannot discount the possibility there are abusive and sadist teachers out there, ever ready to vent their frustration on innocent students.
There are disciplinary procedures in school. Teachers too must follow the procedures.
They should report and refer difficult students to the headmaster or discipline master. They should leave it to the designated authority in the school to mete out the punishment.
Again, there are reasons for this. Allowing teachers to punish the students directly violates the objectivity principle.
It is best to let a third party hear the problem and decide on the appropriate punishment. It is my opinion that teachers are not always right.
I am not saying most teachers are sick. But a few sickos here and there are more than sufficient to cause havoc.
We make rules precisely for that — to prevent abuse and outlandish behaviour of those who have power over the powerless (in this case teachers over students).
TK Chua is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.