Children are special, stop corporal punishment…!!!! file picture

Tinashe Nyamushanya
The issue of whether children should or not be beaten by their parents at home and by their teachers at school has been the cause of much controversy between various groups of people in society. These people who are mainly psychologists,traditionalists, human rights activists and parents have been debating on this issue for many years, and no one seems to agree on anything. Now, because times are changing society is also changing and due to much psychological research on human behaviour, these groups are now coming together to find ways in which the old ways can be integrated with the new. How can the old proverb spoil the child and spare the rod be made to co-exist with the ideologies of modern thinking concerning human rights?

Often the rod is used cruelly on children. This is probably because parents and teachers expect too much from their children and when a child disappoints them they are frustrated and they show all their anger on the poor child. There are some cases when a child is beaten so severely that she starts to bleed or breaks an arm and has to be taken to hospital.

This so called correction clearly shows that the proverb “spoil the child and spare the rod” is often used as an excuse for cruelty. In Zimbabwe many children are running away from home and preferring to live on the streets. One of the major causes of the increase in the number of street kids is that many of them run away from ill-treatment by their parents or guardians. This ill-treatment involves being beaten up for petty offences. When a child leaves his/her home where he/she receives food, shelter and protection and chooses to live on the streets where he can go hungry, it goes to show how severe the beatings are.

It also shows that some parents simply do not know where to draw the line concerning the proverb “spoil the child and spare the rod”. Some parents believe that children can only learn by being beaten with a stick.

“He’s my child and I have the right to punish him any way I want,” some parents will probably say this if approached. What the parents or guardians fail to realise is that children have rights too. Children have the right to be educated, loved and counselling. There are other ways to bring up good and well mannered children. Many psychologists would advise parents to lead by example.

A child learns from the behaviour of his immediate environment. All the caning in the world will not be able to persuade a child to behave well if his parents are aggressive at the slightest provocation, or if the parents drink and smoke heavily.

It is possible that the child will copy them. If parents want to improve their children’s behaviour it is best that they improve theirs first. Disobedience and impulsive behaviour in children might not be entirely the children’s fault.

Parents should first look at their own behaviour. Some teachers beat pupils who fail in class and expect the rod to make them pass. They believe stubborn children will listen to nothing else except the cane. But this is not always wise. There may be other reasons why children fail in class. The child might have poor eyesight and have trouble reading.

They might be problems at home. Parents may always be quarrelling and fighting and this interferes greatly with his/her studies. Children have the right to express themselves to show how they feel,and they also have the right to be heard. Teachers , parents should,therefore,communicate with the children.

The writer is in Form Four at Kuwadzana 2 High School

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