Repression is an ancient model of education that continues to thrive even today. It is based on a negative view of the human being: persons are imperfect and should be remodelled through fear, force and punishment in line with the desire of the one in command. It seeks to make known the rules and then punishes all those who disobey. It is also mechanistic in its understanding of how the human being functions. Obedience must work with clock-like precision. Love must be tough. It must be shown in punishing wrongdoing. According to the Romans: Qui bene amat, bene castigat! He who loves well, punishes well. Tough love does not tolerate difference of opinion and diversity. Those who impose this method must maintain their distance and must remain unapproachable.

“The repressive system is centred more on the goal to be achieved. It looks at the young person as if it is looking at the future adult who, as a consequence, should be treated like an adult from the early years. The end results are […] severe and demanding domestic patterns, schools with a stricter regime of discipline, relationships and measures loaded with responsibility, military-style academies and the like.” (P. Braido, PNR, 7-8)

- Parents who control their children by fear and threat of punishment.
- Authorities who maintain strict reserve and distance from their subordinates.
- Teachers who use the cane to get children to obey.

Don Bosco was clearly against the repressive methods used to control juvenile delinquents during his time. He was also aware that some of his Salesians had difficulty in educating some students and were eager to know what his opinion on the use of punishments was. He responded to their requests in a circular letter addressed to the Directors of various Salesian schools in January, 1883. One can clearly see the heart of a father who is eager that young people "benefit rather than suffer when they are the objects of disciplinary action." He insists that his Way continue to be used because "we are making it clear that there is no place for coercive measures when dealing with children. Rather, we are committed to educating them by means of kindly persuasion." (Cf. Don Bosco's Circular Letter, January, 1883, in M. Ribotta, JSS, VI/1, 1995, pp. 96-108.)

Image: English School Seal, 1552,