HOW do we deal with minors today? The debates do not end whether a stick necessary or not in instilling discipline. Minors are like glasses. Even in trying to wash and clean them, there are always chances of breaking them. In trying to straighten them, it should be done with less force. They are fragile, frail, and delicate though we know that they could also be mean, cruel, and unkind.
The mantra is that minors are little precious ones. They could be the country’s next presidents. They should be handled with care. This principle is taken for granted sometimes and the teachers, whose primary job is to educate minors, know how it feels to be misunderstood when dealing with them. The society does not want teachers to use physical force in disciplining the students. The recommended approach is to talk to them in a manner that it does not spell abuse. Make them see the error in their judgment. Let them realize that wrongness of their actions. Never hit them because it will give them lasting trauma and that they might not get over with it. So a teacher has to keep his/her anger even if it is unsafe just to avoid hurting the students.
It gets difficult when minors commit a crime in the school especially if it’s a grave offense. Since they are minors, teachers abide with the teaching and belief that these students are not offenders but the victims of their immature judgment. You have to talk to them and let them realize the problems they created. For me, I do not think it stops the commission of the offense because there are lot of students under the so called “minor” category who know exactly what they are doing and they just committed the crime out of hardness of their hearts and defiance of authority.
And for this, they deserve something more than the usual “talk to him/her” rule. It is difficult to employ the good cop bad cop strategy to strategy catch the students because teachers can always be misunderstood and eventually be misjudged. They can be accused of harassment even without any hint of it. Parents would storm the school and complain of abuse. Next thing you know, the teacher is already being grilled on local or national television. We know what happens when teachers are reported in the higher office for maltreatment of students.
There is a fear that when minors get hurt emotionally or physically, they become rebellious to the society. They may also develop self-pity, fear, anger, and frustration with the people around them and these kinds of individuals tend to become the lawbreakers in the future. This is true but it should be noted that a way of instilling discipline cannot be a traumatic experience when it is the most proper way of making the minor or student realize his/her mistakes. Teachers have reasons in reprimanding the students. They also have reasons why at times they cannot control their emotions and hit them with a stick. Not all students get the message of correction through dialogue. Sometimes it needs the reinforcement of other strategies due to individual differences.
There is a reason why students today are compared to the older generations in terms of behavior. They argue that students now are more aggressive, more expressive, and adventurous so the behavior is deemed normal. But these behaviors do not explain why they are more disrespectful, less sensitive, and more defiant to authorities. It is because we did not do enough to make them realize their mistakes. And every time we become zealous on our discipline tactics, the society is quick to say we are wrong. The minors believe they can do anything they want because they are protected by the laws and policies. The negative side of employing the wrong way of correction is them ending up being spoiled brats.
Right now, the dialogue as the only way of correcting minors is too ideal in the country because our support system such as counseling program is weak. Other countries that strictly implement “no hitting policy,” aligned this way of discipline to their culture. If we are serious in adopting this method which I think we are, we better strengthen our counseling programs. The schools should be provided with numbers of guidance counselors enough to cater the number of students in the school. Counseling as a method should be popularized so that private practitioners should be given the courage to put up their clinics around the cities and provinces.
Minors are the gems of the future because they are our future leaders. They need to be guided to make sure we will have responsible leaders. How we deal with them makes a lot of difference in shaping them to become the persons we want them to be.