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Dec 20, 2020 Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News – The Guyanese family can be a brutal institution. It should come as no surprise to learn that more than parents have been complicit in 85 percent of child abuse and that 50 percent of the perpetrators in these cases were mothers.
The level of violence meted out to children in their homes is a product of the colonial experience. Flogging and other forms of grisly violence were used as punishment and to ensure compliance during colonial rule.
The victims came to accept in their own relations the utility of violence. The violence was not only confined to the home.
Old students of Saint Stanislaus College will recall vividly the case of a father entering the school precincts and dishing out a sound flogging on his son. That son ended up becoming a senior member of the legal fraternity. Many are still of the view that the incident permanently scarred the child and those scars remained well into adulthood.
One of the stories this past week was about a little girl who, it is alleged, was brutally beaten by her mother. The story caused widespread outrage throughout the society but very few have attempted to discuss the level of brutality which many other children face within their homes in which ‘licks and blows’ are seen as acceptable forms of punishment.
Unless this is done, the cycle of violence will continue. Children who were victims of ‘licks’ tend to do the same to their own children, and the so the cycle continues. Breaking this cycle must become a priority since it is more than likely that domestic abuse can be traced back to the acceptability of meting out violence as a form of punishment and justice in homes.
The Minister of Human Services should be more concerned about this matter than about her Ministry playing Santa Claus. This Ministry is asking children to write and say what they want for Christmas. The Ministry will tend to partner with some businesses to fulfill the children’s desires.
A man once tried to play Santa Claus to a child. He wanted to do a good for the Christmas and so he identified a child and told the child to make a wish and he would ensure that wish was granted.
He picked the wrong child. The child reeled off a list of things he wanted: laptop computer, IPAD, X-Box, Play Station 3, a ten-speed bicycle, an electronic musical keyboard, a Samsung Galaxy cellular phone, remote controlled racing car and a Drone. The man never played Santa Claus again.
The Ministry should not try to play Santa Claus. The persons who have to satisfy the children’s wishes are their parents. Only in those cases where children are needy should any outsider get involved. The Ministry is going to have a rude awakening when they realise that they will not be able to meet the demand and the specific needs of many of these children. And there is nothing more devastating to a child for someone to make him, or her, a promise and fail to deliver. The Ministry is going to disappoint a great many children this year. Instead of this bad idea, they should give each child’s Christmas wish to the parent since many parents often cannot know exactly just what their children desire for Christmas.
The Ministry should concentrate on more important things. One such project should be the passing of legislation to outlaw any form of violence against children in the home or in school. Any act of physical violence in the home or in school should be criminalized. Parents should not be allowed to beat their children and corporal punishment in schools should be outlawed.
There are lots of ‘messed- up’ parents out in society. They were beaten mercilessly as children and came to accept this as acceptable. They beat their children mercilessly and believe what they are doing is something good to keep their children in line. They scar their children physically and emotionally for life. How ironic that the victims of violence should end up becoming perpetrators of that same violence.
The time has come to end child abuse by nipping the use of violence to discipline children in home and schools. This is the surest way to break the cycle of violence against children.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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