The recent push from the Senate Committee on Health, Hospitals and Human Services to push through legislation to abolish corporal punishment in public schools is bringing the Virgin Islands out of the dark ages.

It’s a long overdue correction to past held misguided beliefs that adults are allowed to strike, beat or slap school-aged children.

Contrary to the only dissenter to the legislation, Sen. Kenneth Gittens, the belief that hitting children helps them, is flat out wrong. It’s an archaic, cruel power play against vulnerable children, who need other forms of help.

Hurting children is never right.

The Virgin Islands has evolved to a different level on all forms of domestic violence. We have been encouraging children to stop bullying, discuss problems and not strike each other. How can they take our “do as I say, but not do as I do approach” seriously, when we are allowing public school sanctioned hitting by adults?

Public school corporal punishment should be totally abolished once and for all.

Sen. Gittens, you have said, “we don’t use time outs in the Virgin Islands,” and you continue to support corporal punishment, aka physical abuse, of children in our schools. You mentioned you are not a hypocrite on this subject and won’t support this legislation. Changing ones mind for the better, is not being hypocritical.

Perhaps it’s time for your colleagues to sit you in time out, to allow you to re-think your commitment to adults hurting children.

— Maria Ferreras is a longtime St. Thomas resident and community volunteer. She can be reached at