I read some comments yesterday about corporal punishment in a Nigerian primary school. They made me think deeper about our attitude to ‘discipline’. Why do we hit children? To punish? To correct? To change them? Do we HAVE to? Our response is that we were beaten and we are not damaged, but aren’t we? Looking across various societies in the world, we realise that ours is tinged with an element of violence. We do not hesitate to use a fist when a word will suffice, and if we are not of the physical bent to use a physical fist we use a verbal fist – our aim is to obliterate our opponent. We are not born violent – violent is learned. Now, I completely believe that if you spare the rod, you will spoil the child, but discipline is not as synonymous with beating as we seem to think it is, and the import of that verse is sometimes figurative. A life is delicate, and more so a child’s life, before leading a child down a spiral of violence, we need to take a step back and think. Think about your life and what ‘discipline’ did for you. Were you always beaten for the right reasons? I am not saying never discipline your child, but think each time would a word or a rebuke suffice? If it would why go for a beating?
I strongly believe that a lot of the violence in our society is traceable to growing up with in a society where violence is common place. We no longer bat an eyelid – a typical day you wake up:
Next door neighbour is whipping his son,
The other neighbour is cutting down her husband with her tongue,
On the way to work the conductor slaps a passenger,
A police officer rams his gun butt into an okada man’s face,
One of the Ogas in the office cuts everyone down to size with verbal missiles,
A customer threatens to use his contacts with army to show everyone pepper,
When you finally manage to log on to the internet you are faced with the usual stories…
A man who used his own child for rituals,
Gang rape, jungle justice, indiscriminate bombing, general loss of life.
We can pull back on the violence in our society a little bit, if when we can use our fists we stop and think about the best way to proceed, it’s not a reactionary measure, but should be well thought out. So before you hit the child, stop and think, of his/her tomorrow and all our tomorrows, before you hit the child.