That is the name given to juvenile crime, which has been on the ascendancy for a long time and, will continue to increase. This is so because, most of these crimes are unreported. The general attitude of those who suffer losses, is that it is not worth the trouble to inform the police for two reasons. One, the police has more than its hands full of dealing in dealing with serious crimes and, two, a successful outcome of police action would not satisfy the offended parties.

It is a law of physics that “an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” The successful young law breakers will grow up to be members of gangs, which exist for the purpose of providing “aid and comfort” to their members, whose raison d’etre is committing crimes.

If these young offenders are not taught the errors of their ways, almost all of them will grow up to be adult criminals. The number would be greatly reduced if they were introduced to the rod of correction. We have a good example of the efficiency of this treatment in the administration of Singapore. That country has little or no juvenile delinquency and, a very low adult crime rate.

Nation building should begin with the exercise of discipline in the care, training and education of the young.

Every now and then, I read of studies conducted in First World countries, which show that spanking children as a form of discipline has harmful effects. Those who conduct these studies come down strongly against the practice, which views are read and accepted, as from Mount Olympus, by persons of influence in Third World countries. Why are we so ready to believe that what applies to young people in America (for instance) applies to their counterparts in Belize?

We are a different society from the ones, where those studies were conducted. We have our own culture, traditions, attitudes and, our ways of raising children, as the progeny of our best families attest. What we should do is conduct our own studies of the families which produced the best offspring, instead of buying wholesale the ideas of First World experts. I would have more faith in the findings of studies of Belizeans by Belizeans.

There is nothing wrong in the use of the rod of correction as a form of discipline. I am not talking about spanking. That should be reserved for children below the age of reason. I have no experience with spanking but, I and most of the children of my generation, are familiar with rules, made by parents and teachers, which had to be obeyed, or else. Or else, the consequences were powerful. Between the ages of seven and twelve years, I got a beating four times by my father. It was painful. That did not last long. It was also humiliating, which is good for the soul. And, I hated my father for a few hours afterward, except when it was for “cheeking off” an old woman neighbor, who thought she had a right to interfere in our games. Then, I hated him for a whole day because, I had to beg pardon of the old lady. I have to mention that I have a sister who was never punished. She was never even spoken to sternly. It is very annoying to have a sibling who is so obedient.

Parental rules are usually sensible and necessary. They are mostly for children’s safety and protection, which they discover, on reflection, when they are older. Schools have rules too, with similar consequences, if they are obeyed.

I think the rod of correction should be used very sparingly and, not at all if it is not needed. I know a lady who raised three children who are models of what good citizens should be, without corporal punishment to enforce discipline. She and her husband were exceptional parents. Would they have been as successful if they had seven children? The important thing to bear in mind, is that in the care, training and instruction of children, there has to be rules and, it is the duty of parents, guardians and teachers to compel obedience to these rules. It is the duty of children to obey the rules. Where obedience to rules made by the proper authority is concerned, children have no rights.

Having rules governing the conduct and performance of children at home and at school and, the power to compel obedience, is essential to nation building. This is so because, on the success of the care, training and instruction of children depends the quality of the leaders of the nation.

I have been making a case for the use of the rod, as a form of discipline in the care, training and instruction of children and, the need for those in authority to have the power to use it. Now, for a caveat. Persons who exercise power tend to abuse it. We have to guard against that. Therefore, the sanctions against the abuse of power to inflict corporal punishment should be extremely severe.

From ancient times, making use of the rod for the purpose of teaching children to obey the rules made by parents and educational institutions has been proven to be efficacious and, no studies are needed to confirm that this is so. The child who has been subject to this form of discipline at home and at school is prepared to accept and obey the laws of the state. To instill discipline is the primary objective of training children. Disciplined children become a discipline society and a disciplined society is orderly, peaceful, productive and prosperous.

The best example of what discipline, starting with the young, can do for a country is the small island ration, the British Isles, which became Great Britain - “the empire on which the sun never set.” During the reign of Queen Victoria, their soldiers and sailors were the finest, their factories the most productive, their products of the finest quality, the trains ran on time, the mail was always delivered promptly, the arts, sciences and religion flourished and, their citizens were models of civility and good manners. These are only a few of the attributes of that great nation. This is why an Englishman thought and behaved as if he was superior, with some justification.

Another form of discipline that should be introduced to the young, at an early age, is organized sports, as a part of our schools’ curriculum. This could have a transformational effect on a young person’s whole life. A good example of the value of organized school sports is the story of the victory of the British forces over Napoleon. When the man honored as victor at Waterloo, General Wellington, was asked to what he owed that victory, he replied, “To the playing fields at Eton.” At Eton, Wellington was taught to play cricket, the sport that requires the most self-discipline. It is the only sport, where a player may not question a decision of the arbiter. When a batsman is given “out” by the umpire, he has to leave the wicket without demurring. What is more, the batsman should not wait for a decision by the umpire when he knows he’s “out.” Amongst sports disciplines, cricket is the best character builder.

There are some young people who were never taught to obey rules at home, which omission the school system has failed to remedy. They have the habit of tardiness, are frequently absent for frivolous or no reasons and, often fail to complete their elementary education. They become our juvenile delinquents between the ages of twelve to sixteen, and gang members afterward.

Juvenile delinquency is the minor league of criminal activity. They are like mosquito bites or poison ivy on the body politic. Our society has suffered them without demanding an effective remedy. This is a big mistake because, juvenile delinquency is easily curbed. The answer is the old fashioned use of the rod of correction. It will work ninety percent of the time.