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'Kids today are softer'

In the past, parents trusted him to discipline their children, whatever it would take.

Mr Lee Seck Chiang (top), who became a teacher in 1950, said: "In those days, (the parents) were all very trusting. They would say, 'If my kid is naughty, just whack them!'

"Now, you're not even supposed to (call students names)."

This has resulted in a strawberry generation of students, Mr Lee, 84, said.

The label refers to people who are easily bruised and unable to take criticism.

Parents' complaints about punishments being too severe have made the news.

Last October, when a Raffles Girls' Primary School girl was made to stand in the assembly hall every day for talking, her parents reported it to the Ministry of Education asking for "a reasonable explanation on the matter".

WEAK

"If you look at the signs, you'll also interpret them as students being pampered and weak. In a way, it's true," said Mr Lee, now a band instructor at Crescent Girls' School.

"They can't stand up to anything that is negative. How are they gong to face life eventually?"

Mr James Phillips (above), 73, agreed.

"I would say the kids today are softer. They are less resilient and every small thing is a complaint. Come on!"

The former teacher-turned-counsellor added: "The parents have found a political approach to the whole thing - punish my child and I'll report it to the ministry."

In a bid to prepare his students for the working world, Mr Lee makes it a point to remind them to learn to be more hardy outside of band practice.

"I tell them that in a workplace, they cannot expect to be mollycoddled," he said.