A teacher punishes a student with the cane. GENERIC FILE PHOTO.
A teacher punishes a student with the cane. GENERIC FILE PHOTO.

Sparing the rod doesn’t spoil the child, says criminologist

Central Queensland residents are up in arms about the prevalence of youth crime, some going so far as to suggest schools should reintroduce corporal punishment.

"Bring back the cane" has become a popular refrain on social media sites.

"I got a hiding and it never did me any harm," one person said.

However, an expert criminologist has cautioned against such "retributive" measures.

CQUniversity's Dr Masahiro Suzuki said "getting tough" was a popular ploy for politicians.

"They need to get votes to get elected and showing 'tough on (youth) crime' attitude is often an easy path for this sake," he said.

"Hence, many politicians used this card during this election."

Dr Suzuki believes violent measures may, in fact, exacerbate the situation and see an increase in offending.

"Many young people who are involved with the justice system have an experience of child maltreatment, and there is a lot of research suggesting a link between child maltreatment and offending," he said.

"Not only that, they often live in a disadvantaged living environment or community, and they have other challenging conditions such as disability."

One reader prefigured this, saying "Pretty sure they will use excuses like (the offender) has a mental health issue."

"My son has ADHD and has never robbed anyone. No excuses."

But Dr Suzuki insists on a more "rehabilitative" approach.

"I think the authorities should have a strong belief for greater good and develop and implement an 'evidence-based' policy in youth justice," he said

"If they follow the research, they would understand that retribution is not the remedy."

He said some scholars recently argued for "trauma-informed justice", where the impact of trauma such as from child abuse was taken into account.

"Young people are in the development process and what they would need is care and treatment, not punishment.

"This is the very reason why youth justice exists separately from adult justice system."


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