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Rant & Rave

By Justin Shizumura

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

Punishment an
important teaching tool

IN response to Scot Matayoshi's recent Rant (1/23/01) about the effects of punishment on kids, I offer an opposing view.

Parents know what they're doing. Parents must act against their children when the situation calls for punishment: it's the way kids learn. What better way is there to teach children than to deprive them of the less-than-necessary pleasures of life such as the combination of phone-instant messaging-fun-friends?

Harsh as it may sound, kids learn from this kind of stuff.

Imagine this: you really like to drink with your friends at your house. And then your parents find you there, as you're passed out, mumbling "Whazzaaap," surrounded by emptied beer bottles. How reasonable do you expect them to be about the problem they've just encountered?

Did you want them to say, "Oh, honey, drinking is bad. Don't do it, alright?"

And of course, you'll learn from that and obey from that point on, right?

Probably not. Your friends didn't get caught and they want their beers -- it's your friends' demands vs. your parents' demands.

Or, your parents could make you endure consequences that "condition" you to see things their way. I know I'm making it sound bad, but it's true, isn't it? It's basic nature; you do something bad, your parents make you suffer; do you want to do that bad thing again? Probably not, right?

It would be a perfect world if we could just learn from our parents through "nurture and understanding." Too bad this isn't a perfect world and that none of us are perfect people.

AND finally, filial piety is key here. Parents do have the right to say, "I make the rules and I can change them anytime." There are a few reasons for this: a) mothers give a painful birth to their children; b) parents provide for and support children by working to buy food and clothes and medicine and shelter and ... c) fathers and mothers may have to give the painful "birds and bees" talk if the child can't figure it out alone.

Punishment is not vengeful or spiteful; it is a teaching method used by parents to discipline unruly kids. True, parents can be irate after a bad day and may dish out harsh punishments, but so what? If you see that your parent is in a bad mood, make an effort to conform to his or her temper. No one gets anywhere without changing for anyone else.

Matayoshi used the word "us" as though he were speaking for all the youth in the world, but youths do not all think the same way. I know that a lot of teens are capable of understanding the purpose of punishment.

Although some youths feel that punishment oppresses the "individuality" of the teen-ager, others accept their fates to become one in the "hive of people," in other words, a law-abiding member of society.

If I ever become a parent, I will most likely turn to familiar methods to teach my kids about how society works. I know that one day in the distant future, I will be like my father. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Justin Shizumura is a senior
at Iolani School.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
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