A certain clergy was recently quoted to have said, “Children are getting away with a lot of things in schools in the name of child abuse and people are talking about human rights … a foolish behaviour pattern which we have copied with the excuse of freedom of speech; freedom of liberty for the student”.
He added that he didn’t think that in those days when people were being caned they were being abused. He concluded by recommending “caning”.
Leading by example
The clergy must have meant well in his approach, for the reason that there is enough frustration and blame to go around. No one can say that how we raise the nation’s children does not matter.
The larger hope is to not despair in expecting the youth to reach greater heights.
But frankly the onus is on the emotional quality and the stable character of the adults in society into whose care the youth are entrusted.
There’s the rub! You can’t give what you don’t have! In other words, both educators and parents must be equal to the task of raising a certain quality of young people.
But corporal punishment is not a debatable issue.
We should not impose physical or emotional abuse on children. The thing is this: We are trying to modify behaviour through a whip, but will that change the behaviour? If you whip a kid once and the behaviour hasn’t changed; you whip him a second, and a third time and the behavior still persists, then somebody is talking to you, that this method of modifying behaviour doesn’t work.
Unwitting culprits of Sharia law
But church-goers tend to be some of the first culprits to launch the Sharia quote, “Spare the rod, and spoil the child”. But that is in the Old Testament. The great teacher on whose works Christianity was founded, Jesus himself, said “Suffer the little children to come unto me” (Matthew 19: 14).
But our Ghana culture doesn’t accept that. Our culture is more interested in the Sharia “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” type of revenge.
But Jesus intimated that that’s what they told you in the past but I’m telling you now that love the children, and see if it would make a difference.
No matter what you do, one must expect that there will always be a residue of a particular kind of mischief from a child.
But when we’ve done our nobler parts, we may realise that the residue has diminished to a much smaller proportion, where you look into the kid’s eyes and see that whipping will not solve their problems.
Children are often affected by our behaviours and misbehaviours: they are mirror image reflections of who we are and what we do, or don’t do. How did they learn language? By hearing us talk.
How did they act? By watching us act. We are the principal architects of how we raise children. But we’ve imposed the proper rearing of children on the children themselves. It’s not right.
And it’s up to us to live the exemplary characters that we expect children to emulate. It takes a village, as they say.
The den of thieves
When Jesus resorted to the whip, it was not against children; it was against the crooks who had invaded the temples and turned them into “dens of thieves” (John 2: 15). We see these anomalies still today in all manner of crooked temples extorting “tithes” through all manner of deceits.
Many adult abusers stand ever ready to throw “the first stones” without ever stopping to “remove the mote” from their own eyes in terms of society’s negative contribution to the overall indiscipline we see today.
Creepy interpretations of religions, insidious native superstitions, and cold-blooded disgusting literacy and illiteracy of all shades breed some of the spookiest offenders clothed in holier-than-thou pretenses.
Children need good food, sanitation, water, and toilet facilities. These are the basic human necessities to be provided to children which every responsible adult must be seen and heard advocating.
A modest proposal
The questions we need to consider are these: Why do we whip children in school? Maybe they haven’t done the homework? Maybe they told a lie? Perhaps they were late.
What happens to adults themselves or some of our very leaders when they commit some of the same offenses? Do we whip them? Do you see what hypocrites we are? That is exactly what is meant by the emotional quality and stable character of the adults in society.
Children are whipped because they are the weakest in the society.
They can’t defend themselves, neither can they afford lawyers that protect adults guilty of deeper infractions.
We have to begin to live the life that we want children to emulate. That is our core responsibility. For whatever punishment that we impose on a child for an infraction, why don’t we impose same punishments when adults carry on those negative behaviours? It’s as simple as that.
Now, are we going to give the whip to the child to whip the grown up who should know much better than be involved in a devious behaviour? Otherwise we’re being hypocritical.
And the sad part is that children have accepted that imposing physical pain or verbal abuses on them, is how you correct behavior. It’s not. We are sending the wrong messages to them.