I was inspired to write on the subject of child spanking because of a little girl I saw few days ago being spanked by her mother. This little girl of about four years old was running and crying on the streets towards a house which seemed to be her home. With the slow steps of the mother that caught up with the girl that seemed to be running so hard from her mother made her seem even more helpless. When she was just about to enter her house, this little girl fell face down. Her mother quickly dragged the little girl into the house and continued to beat her with a cane.
There were neighbors and many other people who passed by including me and my little brother but unfortunately just like the rest of them, we did nothing to help the girl…we looked on. This hurts me even now when I think about it. It is very hard to interfere in situations like this because to many, this is a good mother only trying to discipline her daughter to make the best out of her.
In fact, I once heard a woman make mockery of another woman who does not believe in spanking by saying these words “I can’t believe how irresponsible some mothers can be. Not spanking your children is just like rearing animals. You only feed them, there is absolutely no difference”
- How true is this statement?
- What are the effects?
- And how effective is spanking?
Spanking is defined by Gershoff as hitting a child on the bottom with an open hand which is definitely not what happens in more than 50% of child spankings in Africa.
Over 98% of African children experience spanking. Many experience it at home and even many more experience it in school especially being the place children spend the most time.
As a child, school meant one thing for me; spanking! Whenever I heard school, the very first thing that occurred to me was a very wicked mathematics teacher who would take the least excuse to spank a child. This is in fact, the truth for many in my society. In school, we were spanked for everything. Making mistakes in assignments, talking in class, fighting and even the inability to purchase the school’s magazine. A lot of things merited spanking.
Spanking in school was usually done with the cane where strokes are inflicted on the buttocks, palms, calves and sometimes the back. The number of strokes ranged from two to about twelve; teachers rarely went above twelve strokes. The buttocks and the palms were considered the lowest form of physical punishment. However, the back and the calves were the most painful and they often left bruises….which I repeat were quite normal for a pupil of a school. School definitely meant spanking.
I would go to school being so afraid and sad because I knew the first period will be a mathematics drill we called mental, it was actually an oral speed test where we were beaten for every single mistake we made. Because of the cane and the threat of being beaten, I made mistakes all the time and it made me very unhappy to go to school. I also hated mathematics and never became good at it…EVER! Even till now. I was always scared of my teachers but mathematics teachers were always the worst for me.
For other children, it was the English, social or even the arts teacher because spanking was viewed as a way for children to achieve academic excellence.
- How true is this statement, “Not spanking a child means you are only rearing the child like an animal”
Now, considering the questions asked before, Is it really true that refusing to spank your child as a parent is a sign of irresponsibility? No…No and I repeat NO! Many parents in Africa look at spanking from a religious perspective and support their actions with the bible. An excuse for spanking has made this scripture very popular, “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. Hebrew, being the actual translation of the bible defines “rod” as a stick used in directing, ruling, walking, fighting and also punishment. However, the bible says in Psalm 23,”Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” I was definitely not feeling comfort when I was being spanked as a child. The rod in the sense of the word must only mean guidance and direction because God referring to us as sheep and he, the shepherd confirms this. Shepherds don’t spank their sheep, they are guided.
A good parent does not spank a child when he or she knows the negative effects of spanking. So the big problem for us is our ignorance.
- What are the effects?
- Studies have shown that children who are spanked become antisocial and egocentric.
- College students showed more psychological disturbances if they grew up in a home with less praise, more scolding, more corporal punishment and more verbal abuse.
- There is hardly an African in my survey who viewed spanking as abnormal. They therefore intended to continue to spank their children in the future.
- Spanking can cause aggression and rebellion in children and even into adulthood
- Children who have been hand slapped are observed to show a delay in exploratory development 7months later.
- Adults who received a lot of physical punishment as teenagers had a rate of spouse beating that was four times likely
- In prisons, a huge chunk of the population were school drop-outs and home runaways because of violence.
- Scientifically, research has shown that children punished physically decreases their gray matter of the brain connected with the IQ.
- Spanking creates insecurity and timidity; a typical trait amongst a lot of Africans. It is observed that in universities where there is a mixed race of people from the black and white communities, the whites tend to answer questions more often than blacks regardless of the fact that they feel they are right or wrong.
- How effective is spanking?
The main idea behind spanking is to correct behavior. However, research has proven that spanking actually makes behavior worse. Parents who stopped spanking observed a positive change in behavior after some time.
If you ever thought spanking makes a child better than talking and giving reason, then I am sorry to disappoint because it will only unmake your child.
If the leaders of Africa is tomorrow are churned from abuse, Africa will definitely remain at the bottom of the world!