This week in the Khuta – Physical punishment: an effective method of discipline?
A long-debated topic in recent years has been the use of physical punishment as a means of disciplining children. After taking a good hour or so to deliberate on my views for the week, I decided to settle on something of which I have first hand experience.
Although an effective tool for immediate compliance, corporal punishment has been associated with psychological trauma and abuse.
In our African cultural society, the use of physical punishment is acceptable and almost expected. I have never heard of a father or a mother back in the village that said punishment is ineffective.
Though there is a thin line between discipline and abuse, the use of corporal punishment is effective and when used in measure may even be a positive tool for growth. Pardon me as you may not agree with me, but that is my take on the matter.
I remember when I was younger; about seven or eight, I would sprint home after a lazy afternoon playing in the park wishing I wasn’t late. My parents had a firm rule about being home before dark for dinner and should this rule be broken I was to be punished and I often got punished. Not only a spank but other forms such as no television or toys for me and I must say, the spanking lesson lasted me longer then any other form of punishment.
Anyway, on one of these unfortunate evenings I would receive a smack on the bottom and a stern lecture. Would it classify as abuse or disciplinary action? I think my parents had the right idea in mind, although I detested a sore bottom. I accepted the implication that with broken rules came punishment and rarely did I ever repeat what I got beaten for.
The disadvantage to corporal discipline is that the distinction between abuse and punishment can be easily blurred.
There are cases where parents may take the action further than necessary resulting in psychological trauma to the child. The negative association of punishment with abuse has been proven to alter the behavioral pattern of children; often leading to aggression and delinquency which is becoming a more common case and I see it in my own household with my younger siblings.
The use of tools that may leave bruises, the use of excessive force and strong language are damaging to the developing mind of a child. Abuse of a child by a parent distorts the child’s moral stance and often leads to problems further along in life. It is necessary for parents to understand the boundaries and interpret what may be labelled as normative punishments.
This is not to say that in all cases where corporal punishment is used the child may display acts of aggression or become delinquent.
In my opinion I think it is often the opposite where children are compliant and learn to associate punishment with misconduct. The use of physical punishment has been a long-standing tradition in our society and even today provides funny anecdotes of our childhood memories.
Such as the time I ran from my mother who was about to administer a nasty spanking because I was playing outside in the yard in my brand new white school shirt.
Although the actual beating could have been harsh, a stern warning and a reminder as to what the reason was for my punishment always followed . In this way I had reason to believe that there was a purpose to the punishment and that my parents knew better and since that day, I never even came close to playing with my school uniform on again.
As a matter of fact, I dare say that these little spanks are what made me into the strong woman that I am today and some day when I do have my kids, I wont spare the rod, after all there is a saying that says “What does not kill you makes you stronger.”