Welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. My name is Ken.
And today we’re going to talk about social problems.
We have such a serious question today.
Yes, and a very heavy one.
Yeah. I think that all countries have social problems.
Absolutely. And I’m sure that our listeners are eager to listen to what we have to say about this topic.
Let’s start with corporal punishment – do you think that it’s acceptable for parents to use corporal punishment as a means of discipline?
Alright, before I answer your question, for the benefit of some of our listeners who may not be familiar with this term. When you say corporal punishment it involves hitting someone, or, in other words, physical punishment.
When it comes to your question, hm… Well, I have more of a conservative view in a way and I would say a bit traditional, because, to be honest with you, I was raised by my grandmother who was totally strict. And I was used to this kind of punishment.
Cause the thing is – I grew up with my cousins, and we were all boys, all three of us. So you can just imagine, you know, raising three boys. Who always fought with each other, you know, who were pointing at each other, who’s gonna do this household chore, who’s gonna do that. And we always argued about food, about toys, so…
So the main purpose of corporal punishment is to control behavior.
Right. Now, you might have a different point of view about this. But in my case I just wanna say that I think somehow it is necessary, but of course I’m not saying that you have to be, you know, you have to use this all the time.
This should be the last resort, when everything doesn’t worked. Because of course parents can talk to their children first, to calm them down, make them realize that what they did was wrong.
But the problem sometimes is this doesn’t work for certain kinds of children and the only thing or the only language they understand is the language of, I hate to say this, but physical punishment.
So in our case, oh god, I still remember – my grandmother, she would take a belt or a stick or she would just smack us, and what I hated about that, even though I wasn’t… Of course I was against it, cause I mean come on, what kind of a child would want to hurt himself or herself.
But you know, it’s interesting how after so many years I don’t have any grudges towards my grandmother. I totally respect her. And somehow I’m thankful that she did that because it made us realize that what we did was wrong.
And at the time, to be honest with you, I really think that it was necessary. Otherwise we wouldn’t have behaved ourselves and probably we would end up being criminals today. Especially my two other cousins, cause they were very naughty. But what is your point of view on this one?
Yeah, it’s very controversial issue. And some people or some parents can say that it’s an effective way of controlling the behavior, but hitting may actually increase misbehavior. And the more parents spank children for behavior, the more rebellious behavior increased.
You know, I totally… Well, I somehow agree with that because my cousin, the second one who followed me, I think, you know, he’s a product of this. Because he grew to become numb with the pain, and he even became more rebellious.
Cause for him it didn’t make sense why he had to be punished physically. So I think it harmed his psychology somehow. I’m just thankful that I wasn’t that naughty of a kid. Cause I still listen to my grandmother, it’s just my grandmother’s, you know, I don’t wanna say like a crazy woman, but she was somehow like that.
Yeah, it can create different types of side effects. And also hitting may, can teach children that it is acceptable to hit others who are smaller or weaker.
It kinda sends them the wrong message as well, because you know, it’s.. at the end of the day it’s still a form of, I would say, violence. And when they grow up they might also carry it with them. And you know, they’re gonna do it to other people, especially weak ones. Not just with their friends, even with their spouses.
Yes, right. Yeah, everything depends on the situation, on people who are involved.
And everybody decides by themselves.
But I’m curious though, when you were growing up, as a child, did you ever experience corporal punishment rom your parents?
Fortunately. So you must’ve been a really good child!
No. But my parents tried to discuss these situations with me, but actually I was a quiet child.
Okay, so you did not misbehave. Wait, do you have any brothers or sisters?
Younger, a younger brother. And yeah, he was punished.
Yeah, in this way, yeah. Just light spanks.
But I wonder though, you’re a mom, right?
How many children do you have?
I have one child, it’s my son. But now he’s 22.
Well of course, old enough not to hit, to be punished in this way.
But also I tried not to hit him, but once.
Yeah, I did it, and I remember it, I still remember it. But my son doesn’t remember really.
What did he do wrong that ended up with you somehow hitting him?
How old? I don’t remember exactly, but maybe 5 or 6 years old.
And that’s why he can’t remember, because he was so young.
Maybe, maybe yeah. But I remember. And…
How did you feel after that?
You don’t think that he deserved it? So you felt guilty somehow?
Yeah, I felt guilty. And it was just a sofa, it was just a thing.
Maybe it was the spur of the moment, because sometimes…
You’re carried away by emotion.
But it wasn’t really intentional, it wasn’t like, you know, you planned to do it.
And speaking of which, you know, well, I’m single, I don’t have children of my own, but yeah, that’s a very interesting question – will I ever use this, you know, in the future, if ever I have my own kids. I’m not quite sure. I may have grown beaten by my grandmother, because…
Well, by the way, just a bit of background, I didn’t grow up with my mother because she had to fly to, she had to work in Japan, she had to provide for the family, so I was left to the care of my grandmother. Now, if I were to become a parent someday, I don’t know if I could use such… I don’t know.
Yeah, it’s easy to say, but when you are in this situation, who knows what is better.
And what about schools? Should teachers use corporal punishment as a means of discipline?
Well, I wanna hear from you first, because I’m gonna tell you something, like a real experience of mine. But I don’t wanna surprise you. But what about you? Really, sincerely – do you think teachers should discipline students with corporal punishment?
No, I think that it’s… It isn’t acceptable. In the past, yeah, school used corporal punishment, but then it was banned. And I think that it creates worse academic achievements, and unwelcoming learning environment, and I think it doesn’t work.
You know, I wish I hadn’t experienced that. So you see, it gives you the idea that yeah, I had experienced it in my primary school in the Philippines, in the village, before we moved to Manila for high school. Cause that’s where I studied, took up my high school.
But in primary school my goodness, we had teachers who… They terrorized us! They were so scary, they were very strict. I remember I had this subject, it’s reading, so we had homework. But then I was really really, I was so nervous because when I opened my notebook and I didn’t see any answers, oh my god, I forgot!
And then the teachers started calling me. Okay, for those of you who haven’t done your homework – please form one line to the right, and then she got her stick and one by one she hit us.
Was it allowed in the school?
It was a common practice back then. So I was one of those students who was hit. And there was even another one – not exactly hitting, but oh god, it was another, you know, student. He was pinched with his ear. What was the problem there?
Ah, because he was caught talking with his seatmate. And absolutely you’re not allowed to speak to your seatmate when the teacher is talking. And there was also, oh my god, this might shock our listeners, but… There were three boys, they accused one teacher of being a liar.
I don’t know first, you know, what the reason was. But they said something that the teacher was a liar. However, this was brought up to the attention of the teacher, so she found out about it. She called for the three students to come in, she asked them to write one hundred sentences telling, what did they write?
Ah, missis bla-bla-bla, I don’t remember her surname, Missis bla-bla-bla is not a liar. So one hundred sentences. And then, after writing those sentences, she crumpled paper, she asked the students to open their mouth and then chew it. Sounds, well.
I know it’s ridiculous, it’s mind-blowing that such things could happen, but it happened. But am I for the corporal punishment? No. But to be honest with you, when I was in the Philippines, when I became a high school teacher, I thought to myself – life is so unfair. Because now I really wanted to smack my students, at the time.
Yeah, it was just spur of the moment, I was angry because you know, they did something naughty. So I was so mad. And then suddenly it was a flashback of my childhood, I thought – life is so unfair.
When we did something wrong, you know, back then, we were punished physically, but now I can’t even punish them, this is so unfair. That doesn’t mean of course that, you know, I advocate for corporal punishment – no. I wish I didn’t have to you know, experience that. Because really, it’s so embarrassing. It breaks your confidence as well.
Yeah, it creates low self-esteem.
Yeah, that’s why there were days when I didn’t want to go to school.
Right, yeah. Okay and let’s now talk about another problem – vices.
By the way, let’s define it first. Vices are illegal and immoral activities that may include drugs et cetera. Yeah?
Yeah. And what causes drug and alcohol addiction? What do you think? What reasons?
Well, drug and alcohol addiction. I think some people don’t know how to handle their problems well. And you know, for me they see it as an escape from all of their, what, worries in life. It’s a temporary break from depression, it’s a way to run away from their problems and somehow feel this a bit of joy.
Even though it doesn’t last forever. Because after drinking and after using drugs your problems will still be there. And partly I would say that it’s also the influence of people around you. I would say for example with friends, especially with…
I’m not saying with all teenagers, but I would say the problem of alcohol it’s sometimes because of the circle of friends that you have. Not just friends, even in your family. For example, if you have an alcoholic father you will be influenced as well. So, yeah. A lot of factors, so those are some that I can think of. What about you?
There are many reasons why some people start abusing drugs or alcohol, yeah. And every case is unique, of course, yeah. Maybe some people want to escape or mask pain.
Also some health problems. And using drugs can provide temporary solace from suffering, but it’s just temporary.
It doesn’t really sole the problem.
Yes, right. Okay. Next I think the most important reason is relationship problems.
Yeah, they are not able to… They don’t know how to deal with their relationship.
It’s so sad because they have to turn to such things in order to lift themselves up when in reality they’re only doing more… I mean, worse for themselves by turning to drugs or alcohol.
Yes, right. And depression, stress, yeah, it starts with simple recreational use. Just one time, experiment maybe, trying something new, but then it becomes frequent and a necessity.
And it becomes an addiction because the person does that repeatedly. How can we help people with addiction problems?
If you want to help, you should focus on building trust.
Support. And be honest with this person. And you need to talk more with these people.
Sincerely, with an open mind.
Yeah, right. And addiction is not a choice that an individual can control.
And so these people can’t stop using, abusing, and they can’t control it. So. They need help.
Absolutely. You know there’s a problem with their psychology and so we need to approach them with an open mind. Do not judge them. Because the problem sometimes is that people in society, the moment they know you’re an alcoholic or a drug user, they see, they revoke you and they think ‘oh my god, you’re such a bad person’. And that’s it.
Without even trying to understand where is this person coming from – how did he end up abusing such, you know, things, like alcohol and drugs. So I think more than our judgment, they need help. And well, one way to do that is I guess to spend time with them, to really talk to them sincerely.
And try to give them options to how they can improve or change their life. Because really, this is not an easy problem. One sit down meeting isn’t enough, it’s gonna take sessions.
Yes, right. And a lot of specialists should work with such people. What about next social problem, it’s homelessness. I think it’s the biggest problem in all countries.
You know, in my country for example. I think we have a serious problem of this one, especially in the cities. To be honest with you, I feel very bad for them. Because, okay, this is kinda similar to the vices that we mentioned earlier. Sometimes people end up in the streets not because they wished to live in the streets, I don’t think so.
What do you feel when you see homeless, you know, homeless people? They have some judgement on them?
I try not to judge them. But I feel a mixture, I have a mixture of feelings, and… But I think that a lot of people try not to look at them.
Try not to notice them, and yeah, and how do you feel?
But, so, are you… You said mixed emotions. Like, emotions of what? You feel sorry?
Yeah, I feel sorry and I feel angry maybe because there are a lot of opportunities in our world. Why? Why they stop using, stop trying something?
You know, in my case I have a soft spot for them in my heart. Because I would like to believe that a lot of homeless people that we find in the streets, they end up there not because they wanted to, but for some unfortunate event or some series of unfortunate events.
They ended up, you know, outside. One of them is psychological problem maybe. I mean, not everyone is born strong, mentally, psychologically, so they don’t know how to deal with their problems. And that’s why they, you know, they end up sing, I mean, vices, drinking alcohol or smoking or even drugs.
And then they lose their property or whatever they have and then they end up in streets. I feel very bad for them. Even though you say, for example, oh, why should you feel bad for them, you know, they wasted their money, they were irresponsible.
Yeah, I understand that, I mean, nobody’s perfect, but maybe they needed somebody around to help them. Maybe they didn’t have people in their circle to somehow guide them, to support them. Because I don’t think there’s anyone out there who wished to live in the streets. Who would want to stay outside in winter? Who would want to, you know, beg for money. I don’t know, this is how I feel.
Yes, speaking of which. I wanted to ask you first before I give you my answer.
No. I don’t give money to these people.
Because I think that it won’t help them. They… I can’t give them a lot of money, and, but that money which I give them, they spend on alcohol maybe.
Yeah, right, and I’d prefer to give some food, maybe clothes, something like this.
Wow, that’s nice, that’s very nice of you. Because in my case, before I sued to give money, but then again I had some doubts because I don’t know what they use the money for. So these days I just try to provide them with food.
And sometimes, you know, some of them they just need someone to talk to, because they have nobody else to speak to about their problems. I remember this elderly man, I guess two months ago here in Novosibirsk. He in fact approached me and my friend.
At first he asked if we have any coins, a little change. And then I told my friend, because I don’t really speak Russian, so I told my friend – can you ask him is it possible to just give him, you know, some food, because I don’t have cash now.
And you know what? He was so… I mean, his mood changed, he suddenly became somehow café. And so I took him to one café and I told him okay, whatever you want to eat, just tell me and I will buy it for you. And you know what? He was so scruffy, dirty-looking, but he extended his hand to offer a handshake, and I did it.
Yeah, because I feel so sorry for him, because he’s an elderly man. I wonder what happened to his family, why did he end up in the street.
Ken, it’s so kind of you.
I don’t know. You know, if only I were rich, I would provide help for them, not just in terms of what, food or clothes, but if only I could be a part of an organization to treat them. Maybe they have some hidden talents that they can, you know, invest in, so that they can use as means of, you know, earning money.
And I think that government should do more work to provide services, to get more people off the street. And when I was preparing for our discussion, I tried to find out the rate of homeless people in Russia.
And it’s… official number is 64 thousand people. But it’s only official number. But there is another information, and almost 5 million.
I don’t know, because there is uncertainty about this number of people who are homeless. And I think government doesn’t notice this problem.
Is there anything that the government is doing at the moment to somehow, you know, reduce the…?
Yeah, maybe. I know that there are some shelters for such people. But I don’t know exactly.
I see. Well, I do hope that it will be addressed. And not just by the government but in our own small ways. By giving whatever help we can extend to them. Alright, let’s talk about equality. I just wonder, do you think that minorities should be given priority because of the race?
I’m not sure if this is an issue in Russia, but of course, you know, in America, for example, in the West, you know, there are differences between the white people, the black, or, you know, even brown, whatever.
I think that what is important it’s the qualification of a person and it doesn’t matter what is his or her nationality.
You know, it’s good that you pointed that out. Because although this is a huge issue in the west, but for me, I think that does it really matter that your skin is like this, or of a certain color? I totally agree with you – it should be about qualifications, this is.. We’re not hiring people on the basis of their skin color, but more on what they can bring to the table.
Their experience, their knowledge and of course their skills. Because I don’t think it would be fair, for example, disrespect for example the minorities, like the black people, like okay, we’re only going to hire black people because we want them to have the opportunity to lead a company.
What about, for example, other races? Or other nationalities who are more than capable, who can bring more, I mean, better changes to, let’s say, a company? Wouldn’t it be unfair to them that they’re more qualified but they chose a minority simply because you wanted to be politically correct.
Yeah, right, definitely, yeah. And what are some things people can do to eliminate discrimination?
You know, I… Well, it’s going back to the idea of hiring based on qualifications. I don’t know how… I mean, I know how true it is, perhaps there are racist people, I know they exist, but especially we’re talking about the field of work, they should be hired according to what qualifications they have.
Yes, right. And I think that people should teach their children to treat other people equally.
With what your parents, not just parents, even teachers are teaching in schools for the children to understand that we are all in equal footing. You know, it doesn’t even matter how rich you are. We’re all human beings and therefore we deserve the same rights and privileges.
Alright. Well, I think that’s all the time we have for today. So this has been the BigAppleSchool podcast. Thanks for listening to our topic today which is all about social problems. We’ll see you again next time.