Priest supports corporal punishment

A Catholic priest has called for corporal punishment to be used as a form of child discipline in schools.

But Father Muliau Stowers says that should not be a license to abuse and endanger the life of a student.

Speaking during an interview with the Samoa Observer, Father Muliau believes corporal punishment shaped and moulded him to succeed in life, and it is not wrong to apply as child discipline now also falls on teachers and church ministers and not just parents.

"Disciplining the kids is the responsibility of the parents but not only for the parents, but teachers and ministers and priests of the churches. It is a co-operative duty between different parts of the community," he said. 

“Technology and the lifestyle of western countries has influenced our youth and it has impacted them greatly. The role of the church right now is to try and make sure that they teach the youth on how to deal with different obstacles that they face.”

The popularity of smartphones among Samoa’s youth was also a concern for the Catholic priest, who blamed the gadgets for “crimes committed by youth”.

"The youths are using their phones to access social media and they are influenced by so many different things they see on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram," he added.

Looking back at his time at Saint Joseph’s College, he said corporation punishment was allowed back then. 

"In 1990, I went to school on the first day and the (Catholic) brother who was teaching at the time hit me because I was disobeying the rules, I went home after school and I couldn't sit still because it was hurting. My mother asked me why I was having a hard time sitting down for our evening prayer and told her what happened," he said.

Father Muliau said his mother beat him up after he hold her what happened in school

"Next thing I knew my mum beat me up," he said.

Increasing incidences of burglary, drugs and other crimes involving youth saddened the priest and he encouraged the youth to join their local church. 

"I remember one of the parish I used to work at, I asked one of the women to let her daughter join the youth. Her reply to me was 'my daughter will not come to the youth, because it will have a bad influence on her'. Later on this same woman came to me and said ‘my daughter is pregnant but she never goes out anywhere without my supervision',” he said.

Father Muliau said there is always the risk of pregnancy facing young girls today, regardless of whether they go clubbing, attends youth programs or stays at home with the mother. 

Consequently, he appealed to parents not to force their daughters to get married if they fall pregnant, saying it is wrong to disown them at such a critical chapter of their lives when they will need parental support. 

"If a young girl gets pregnant, never force them to get married. I advise the parents not to make their pride as a priority but their daughters. Most importantly do not give up on your children and don't disown them when they make a mistake. If they make mistakes, that is the time where they will need their parents' support," he said.

The Catholic Church is currently running a special program focused on youth which requires them to run seminars at the different parishes, which Father Muliau said will keep them occupied and use their time wisely. 

"Our Jubilee of Mercy youth have completed the pilgrimage to the big island of Savai’i, and last week they went to a few parishes here in Upolu, and will continue on for the next two to three weeks," he added.

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