I recently stumbled across a post on the Facebook wall of a friend. One of his friends, a woman, had posted that she is against the new law in Kenya that makes it harder for parents to beat their children. I was confused at first and though I didn’t catch the irony or the sarcasm behind it, as I didn’t think that parents could actually be against the protection of their children against physical harm – no matter from whom.
It turned out I was wrong. Reading through the comments below the post left me shocked.
The basic component was that those parents engaged in the discussion thought that beating is the only effective way to discipline their children and that the government should not interfere here and refuse to give a child the right to ‘snitch’ on his or her parents. My friend suggested as an answer to this, that you should make sure if you beat it is a proper beating so that your child will not even think of reporting you.
I have no children of my own, but I have a clear standpoint on violence in every form, and I am still considering deleting him from my Facebook friend list. I know raising children is one of the most challenging things someone can do and I admire everyone, who manages to raise kind and thoughtful human beings, but this should be done without violence.
As I said, I was shocked by the conversation and it clearly showed the importance of this kind of law. Laws to protect children from the despotism of their parents. You might think now, that parents always want the best for their children and therefore it is up to them how they discipline their children, or even worse ‘I was beaten too, and it didn’t harm me’. But think back, are you really not harmed by it? What did you feel when your parents came onto you, not for showing your love but instilling fear in you, for the sake of making you stop doing things they didn’t consider appropriate? Most likely you were scared and helpless, maybe you felt unloved and alone, maybe betrayed by the person who is supposed to protect and not hurt you. Even as adults we know those feelings and they are nothing we want others to create in us and we try everything not to feel this way ever.
What the beating of your parents also did to you is the thought that it is ok to solve problems with violence. To beat someone smaller and weaker into submission. It gave you an easy way out, it gave you the option to ignore that your children need protection, that they need to feel loved – always – to become loving and caring adults themselves.
Solving problems or misbehaviour with violence teaches a child more than just a lesson. It teaches that it is ok to solve problems with violence. It teaches that it is ok to ignore opinions and realities of other people to the point that you can beat them away. You don’t have to deal with it as you just can physically remove them.
What does that do to a society at large, when most of the children are brought up being beaten and becoming beating parents themselves? Kenya has a violence problem. This is becoming clear in every election cycle. Opposing opinions are being fought out in the streets. The police are violent and even more so taught and encouraged to be. Violent crime in Nairobi is a huge issue beyond comparison to other cities around the world. I guess everyone agrees that it is wrong for the police to beat as their purpose is to protect. Everyone agrees that it is wrong that someone physically hurts another human being to rob him or her.
I am not saying that beating your children is the reason for violence in society. There are clearly many factors to consider. Amongst poverty and corruption, there is a lack of education and health issues and much more playing into the making of a society. But every society is made up out of individuals and whatever they think, believe and act upon is what shapes society.
So why is it wrong that adults beat others as long as it is not within the family – as long as it is not a parent beating a child because it seems that many people think beating a child is justified? It is not. As a parent, you need to be aware that every move, everything you do to your child or others, teaches your child a lesson. The chances are high that whatever you do, your children will do when they are grown up.
Shouldn’t you teach your child to be kind, sweet, responsible, confident and tolerant? Shouldn’t you teach your child to solve his or her problems by talking and finding a compromise rather than beating it away? Shouldn’t you teach your child that the weak need protection, not oppression?
It is true when people say everything starts at home – the good and the bad that shapes and defines future lives. Make sure to pass on the good things you learned from your parents – not the bad.