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Study: Corporal punishment of children promoting culture of violence in region

The violence being witnessed today in the region is linked to the use of corporal punishment and its acceptance as a normal aspect of Caribbean culture, according to a recent study in the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies.

Dr. Merle Hodge, lecturer at the University of the West Indies and author of the study entitled ‘Everyday Violence Against Children’, noted in the study that the behavior of individuals who commit violent crimes is a manifestation of something much more deep-seated inhabiting the society as a whole.

“The culture of violence cannot be defined only by outrageous acts of violence committed in the public sphere,” she added.  “I would like to identify it as a long-standing acceptance of violence as a normal, even necessary part of everyday human interaction.”

She added, “For me, the most important manifestation of this internalized violence is our profound commitment to the use of physical and verbal violence in the socialization of children.”

Hodge indicated in the study that the majority of people in the Caribbean believe that the beating of children is an acceptable form of discipline.

”The majority of our people believe in the efficacy of corporal punishment for the successful upbringing of children,” she noted.  “It is a part of the national ideology, whereas the majority of us dissociate ourselves from other forms of violence against the person.”

Hodge explained that the beating of children is not only a major symptom of the culture of violence, but is also a method of transmitting that culture from generation to generation.

“I believe that because our earliest experiences in life include violence directed at us by the people who are closest to us and who love us, our caregivers, there are to be found among us some behaviors and attitudes that are not particularly healthy, which are a part of the culture of violence,” she noted.

“Think of how readily a person may resort to violence against another person in response to the mildest aggravation or perceived affront.

“Over the past few years, simple disagreements over a card game, a hat, a drink, a few dollars, have moved swiftly from argument to physical assault, followed by shooting, or stabbing, or chopping, to death.”

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