Rights & Punishment
Everyone is talking about ‘rights’ these days, especially student rights. Some education officials think that students deserve more freedom in their school lives and that schools should not be perceived as draconian. Yet there is a problem with granting too many rights to students, actually there are several problems.
One of the first problems is the disruptive nature that arises when students are given too much freedom. Petty jealousies give way to minor disagreements which give way to major fights as some students do not like how others use their new found freedom.
Another problem is the idea that the school officials are putting the inmates in charge of the asylum. School and teachers’ rules have no meaning any more as students get to do as they please. This is actually a major issue as school and teacher authority should not be lose its power or control over the school and the student body.
At no time should student rights exceed or over-rule school and teachers’ rights. There is a reason for why they are called students. They are in class to learn and to learn that there is an authority with more rights than they is one very important lesson if society is to function correctly.
The student needs to learn that there are repercussions for their wrong behavior and that with freedom and rights come responsibilities. Total freedom is not freedom but anarchy and the student needs to learn that granting rights to one person to act as they please means that the other person gets the same rights and can act as they want.
Rights are a two way street and they are limited to ensure the safety of the whole community not just one small group. The Bible doesn’t talk about ‘rights’. It doesn’t have to as it talks about how people are to behave towards others. ‘Doing unto others…’ covers a very broad area of life and it doesn’t exclude education. ‘Loving your neighbor as yourself’ also does not exclude education but clearly lays out for the sincere how they should act in any setting.
Punishment or discipline is a very touchy issue these days as many want to remove corporal punishment from the schools. That is basically forcing one’s ideology upon those who do not accept that way of thinking and that is wrong. No one is forcing opponents to use corporal punishment in their work as a teacher. They are free to use alternative methods if they so choose.
The opponents of corporal punishment do not have the ‘right’ to force their ways on those who disagree with their beliefs. The Bible does talk about discipline and punishment and it lays out the rules for how it should be carried out.
In a general sense, punishment is to be used to ‘bring about repentance’ so that the offender sees the error of his or her ways and change. It also gives specifics as well. Punishment should be fair and just. The process to reach a decision on what type of punishment should be administered includes forgiveness, compassion, mercy, wisdom and understanding.
Those characteristics are needed to make sure the discipline given is the right course of action and solves the problem not harden the heart. If the offender realizes that they are being punished unfairly or unjustly then they may decide that it doesn’t matter what they do, they will never see proper discipline and another person is lost to the wrong side of the law.
The Bible doesn’t rule out corporal punishment but it also doesn’t exclude it from the above guidelines. One item that is not included in that process is emotion. Emotion is not a tool for justice as it distorts what took place, the reason why it took place and the type of reaction that is needed to respond to the offense committed.
The Bible will not use the exact words one wants to read, but it does speak volumes about how things should be done. It provides the guidelines to produce the environment all people want for their schools. Sadly, people reject it because it has to do with God.