Youth violence has always been with us. According to the Biblical account, Cain (Adam and Eve’s first-born son) killed his younger brother, Abel. Even the intervention of God Himself, who counselled Cain to overcome his anger, did not prevent Cain from killing his brother.
Cain was jealous of his younger brother’s success. God explained to him that he would be successful if he simply did what was right. However, Cain saw Abel as his rival, who should be eliminated.
At all times in our lives, there will be those who are: stronger, faster, healthier, smarter, more skilled, and tidier than us, and those who are not. None of them are our rivals.
All of us have our own race to run. Our individual challenge is to become the best that we can be, in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves on our journey. Our only rival is ourselves.
We should never be envious of others’ temporary successes, or covetous of their interim rewards, even if they were obtained illegally. Everyone has the options of running their race well or badly. However, our final judge and rewarder is God.
Sometimes we are invited to compete for interim rewards in: sports, academics, professions, and arts. The rewards are used as incentives for competitors to give their best efforts, sometimes for the entertainment of others. Some think ‘best efforts’ means to damage the competitiveness of ‘rivals’, rather than improve themselves through practise.
Those who see rivals in others may delay their own journey, by pursuing the rewards of their ‘rivals’. These rewards may be: honour in the community, the affection of a potential mate, promotion, etc. When the desire for others’ rewards consumes them, they may try to damage the competitiveness of their ‘rivals’.
This damage can take different forms. In sports, it can be to sabotage their competitors’ training equipment. In professions, it can be to damage their competitors’ professional reputations. In politics, it can be to damage their competitors’ personal reputations. At school, it can be to harm another student.
There are two types of physical fighting, which are defined by their intents. The intent is to either cause, or not to cause permanent harm. I have seen both types of fighting. The vast majority caused no permanent harm, and was like controlled wrestling. In the other type, weapons were used indiscriminately.
I am only aware of one method of effectively addressing fighting at schools. At primary school, the headmaster mercilessly beat any boys who fought without permission. Students who wanted to fight had to sign a register.
On a scheduled day, they were given boxing gloves, a mouth guard and protective head gear, and were allowed to fight an opponent. The headmaster refereed the fights to ensure some fairness.
This method seemed to work, because the threat of a merciless beating far outweighed any desire for unauthorised fighting, and those who wanted to fight had a safe environment to do so. Everyone returned home alive, whether they were flogged, or beaten by a boxing opponent.
In secondary school, the threat of a merciless flogging continued, and a wider range of sporting activities were available. Today, floggings are rare.
The modern consequences of fighting are to either suspend or expel the student. This method of ‘discipline’ only punishes students academically, which can limit their future potential. When they return to school so far behind their peers, they may give up. So, the only thing that students, who may not want to be at school, have to fear, is an extended holiday from school. Brilliant.
Some students have been led to believe, by anti-corporal punishment policies, that the consequences of fighting are not only bearable, but preferred. Once advocates with a blind adherence to a questionable agenda lead government policy, then discussion and reason, which can expose the weaknesses in the agenda, become the rival to be eliminated.
The Government has stated its intention to force through its anti-corporal punishment agenda, to punish students academically rather than physically. Violent students will have little to fear in such a permissive environment. The fear is reserved for all teachers and students, who are vulnerable to harm when violent students lose their tempers with their perceived rivals.
The solution under this agenda-driven experiment on our students, is that students must learn to fear something other than a brief but merciless flogging. Our students should be so interested in learning, that they are afraid to miss a single day at school. That would involve a rearrangement of the school’s curriculum, which we plan to explain next week.