Emotional Intelligence Home Page


Student Police


The Boy Brigadier

An example of a "brigadier" in Peru. Starting them early. A brigadier in Peru is similar to a "prefect" in England and Australia.


Claire - The Prefect from Australia

Here is something about a former "prefect" who I met a few years ago when I was living in Canada.


Claire from Australia was my first visitor to the Canadian program which started in 2001. She got a ride to Cap-Chat with an alternative transportation company called Alo-Stop, then she hitchhiked the rest of the way.

Once Claire and I started talking we rarely stopped. Claire was studying psychology and law. We talked about how she was raised in a wealthy suburb of Sydney and was heavily socialized to behave according to other people's expectations. She had been in Canada for about 9 months. This is the longest time she has ever been away from home and she is just now starting to find her own identity. She deliberately wants to expand her horizons. She said she always knew she did not share all of her parents' values and beliefs and that she didn't really fit in with the people she called her best friends in school.

Claire was a "prefect" in an upper class private school. As a prefect she was given authority over other students and was rewarded for helping enforce the school rules. We talked at length about this and how she felt about it. As prefect she had the power to tell other students what to do, and if they did not do it she could report them to the school authorities and they would be punished. One of her duties as a prefect was to make sure everyone was wearing their uniform "properly." I asked her what she would say to a student whose shirt was hanging out. She said, "I would just walk up to him and say "Tuck your shirt in." At the time she didn't think there was anything wrong with this, but hopefully I helped her realize that no one likes to be bossed around and threatened with punishment.

As we talked asked Claire a lot of questions. I asked how it felt to order other students around like this and how she thought the other students felt. I asked her what the purpose of education really is and why it was important for the boys to wear their ties all the way home even after they had left the school property (something which was actually another of the school rules).

I asked Claire how she felt about my questions and she said she felt defensive. We talked about that for a while. Asking her how she felt and letting her explain why she felt defensive helped relax her so we could continue to talk openly.

We also talked a lot about her parents and how she was raised. I asked if she had ever been hit by her parents and she said yes. Then we talked about whether a child ever deserves to be hit. Claire started feeling defensive and insisted she had "good" parents. I then asked her what "good" meant in that context and how she felt about my questions.

Again she was aware that she was feeling defensive and she explained why. She said that it felt threatening to think of her parents not being good. She said that if someone gave her convincing evidence that her parents were not "good," then she would have to face the possibility that there was something wrong with her. She said this is what frightened her when I asked my question.

To break up the intensity of our talks we took a long bike ride into the woods at the end of the road, and at night we sat around the campfire and relaxed. The next day, though, she made some excuse that she had to be going so she only stayed that first day. I think she had enough of my questions and couldn't take any more confrontation with her upbringing. Though she had my email. I have never heard from her again.