The Youth Coalition for Transformation (YCT) is supporting the call for the abolition of corporal punishment in schools and violence as a means of discipline in homes as it has resulted in children becoming cultured to use violence to solve conflicts and to exert power over those perceived to be vulnerable.
YCT presented this view in its submission to the Special Select Committee on Guyana’s commitment to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the abolition of corporal punishment in schools and other human rights and social justice issues. In a press release, the group said it is committed to transforming the attitudes of Guyanese to nationhood, including alleviating violence against young and vulnerable persons.
According to YCT, Guyana has a history of using violence, especially by the state in schools and by the Guyana Police Force and other forces, to achieve power and domination. This wider tolerance of violence has resulted in an increase in the levels of violence in homes and schools; not only committed by teachers against students, but also by students against teachers, students against other students and parents and other persons against school officials.
“The transformation has to come from saying no to the use of violence in our schools and homes against those who are weakest,” the group said. YCT believes that the beating of children in homes lends to the culture of violence which includes domestic violence, gang violence and the rapid escalation of disagreements between and among citizens into violent confrontations. The group reiterated its commitment to working with all Guyanese to change attitudes and transform the society into one in which “our children and youth do not have to suffer violence and do not have to use violence to assert their own sense of value.”
“We have seen from our work with children in Agricola on a literacy programme, that it is possible to transform our educational settings into one in which children enjoy learning and in which their challenges are met by adults,” YCT said.
“We did not have to beat any of the children who participated in our literacy programme and we have no intention of doing so…. The beating of children in our schools contravenes elements of the Constitu-tion of Guyana that guarantees the rights of citizens, especially the vulnerable to the right to protection against harm and abuse….We do not believe that culture and attitudes are static.”
YCT does not wish Guyana to be seen as a country which cannot honour its own Constitution or the Convention on the Rights of the Child as they relate to protecting its most vulnerable citizens. “The events at Marudi Mountain in March 2013 and Linden in July 2012 of unwarranted police violence and killings have already given Guyana a negative image as one in which visitors and investors cannot be certain of their own rights and protections from the violence of the state, much less from criminals,” the group said.
As such, the group is calling on the National Assembly to lead the way by outlawing corporal punishment in schools and removing this legacy of slavery and oppression. YCT also urges the National Assembly to ensure that school managers, teachers, students and parents are provided with the policies and resources to reverse the rising tide of violence in schools and to ensure that the next generation of children are educated and nurtured without violence.