“I was in secondary school when I fell sick and had to go home. When the nurse arrived to treat me, she asked if I had eaten, I said no, the nurse then asked me to get something to eat before taking a drip. I made noodles and left the pot unwashed in the kitchen. My mum got back and met the unwashed pot, she then used a turning sick on her sick child while I was still receiving my drip, she told the nurse to remove it and let me wash the pot and let me continue the drip when I’m done” Sounds terrible? There’s more of that.
“On another occasion I was sent to my sister’s friend place. So I overstayed while playing with her children. Eventually my mum got home before me and she said “since you went there to collect clothes, bring out all of the new clothes I’ve bought for you, I’m not giving you anymore”. I went into my room and packed everything and handed it to her. The beating started because I chose to obey her instead of begging her for pardon. I didn’t cry while she flogged me, this further angered her and made her put grounded dry pepper in my eyes, vagina and all over my body. She then said “if you won’t cry, then I’ll make sure you go blind” while smacking my eyes with a belt hook. This is a tip of what millions of children in Nigeria face daily from parents, care takers or even random adults.
Physical harm is physical injury inflicted on a child as a result of punching, beating, kicking and any other related act. The abuser or harmer might not have intended to hurt the child but the child’s injury was resulted from overly harsh discipline or physical punishment.
What you should know about physical harm
- contrary to myths of physical harm being a weapon for instilling respect in children, it is important to know that respect is earned and physical harm only instills fear in the children that are being raised.
- Several people were asked if the flogging and physical harm they went through as children changed their character for better, all the responses we got were negative. Logically, if physical harm was helpful, there would be no reason why a child would be flogged over a particular offense repeatedly. Physical harm only makes the children that are being raised get better at hiding what should be known to their parents, guardians or caregivers.
- A research carried out showed physical harm affects the brain development of its victims. There were clear differences in nine brain regions between those who had suffered childhood trauma and those who had not. The obvious changes were in brain regions that help balance emotions and impulses, as well as self-centered thinking. Click to read more.
- A child can not think like an adult, a child does not know the things you know as an adult, lower your expectations for them. A child would one day reach the age of accountability and maturity, a child one day would know what is right and wrong. Be patient with the child.
- Lots of healing adults who went through child trauma prefer to have a long distance relationship with their parents because of the things they went through. Physical harm is capable of causing strains in the parent-child relationship. You should be who the child runs to not run from.
- What if my children get spoilt? There is a need to redefine what we term “spoilt kids”. If the child can stand up to anyone disrespecting them and violating their rights they are not spoilt, if the child can speak to correct anyone who is doing wrong they are not spoilt. When the child is spoilt is when they can not make decisions on their own when alone, the child is spoilt is when they spend years healing from the scars of bad parenting.
- You might tell yourself I was flogged or physically harmed and turned out fine but it never changes the fact that it’s abuse and it also doesn’t dissolve the fact that it ruined other people and most people hated going through it. Physical harm has affected the way many victims view life and relationship. They become obsessed with respect and forcing people whose respect they have not earned to respect them even if it takes bullying.
How Do I Raise My Child Then?
Parenting is a very difficult task, everyone wants to be a good parent. We sometimes abuse children out of love and fear of them going astray but these method has a lot of consequences on their emotional and mental well-being. What other ways do we consider then?
- We need to model behaviours: A child needs to understand the consequences of each of their actions. Not by flogging, knocking or punishment but by a heart to heart talk from a parent to a child. Teach them how to behave in different situations.
- Listen: Children are often silenced by adults in the society and family. We need to listen more to our children, hear their opinions, listening to your children helps to know what they think and how you can correct it. In cases where they’ve been abused sexually they can also speak to you.
- Limits: We need to create rules they can follow to curb excesses. The consequences of breaking the rules must be followed immediately and strictly. The mistakes commonly made when creating limits or rules is the fact that parents don’t update these limits as their children grow. As a child develops and know more on their own the rules need to change.
- Consequences: Consequences or punishments should never be harmful. Redirect their energy into something productive like doing house chores, reading books, taking their toys and stopping them from going out.
- Emotions: Wills clash and views clash in child raising but that’s okay. The child sometimes might not understand reasons for your actions even after explaining, they might get angry, get sad but a bit of this is sometimes needed.
- Be prepared for mistakes and troubles: Be prepared to teach the child how to behave at school, plan ahead on how they should avoid getting into fights or stealing.
- Pay attention and know when to act: Pay close attention to their behavioral patterns and the things they share with you. Let them go to lengths but not extreme, let them explore so long there’s no danger in it, don’t be over protective but stay alert and know when to act, this will improve their decision making.
- Apologize: Many parents are caught in the obsession of being a perfect parent even when they get things wrong. Show your children it is okay to miss it and that the important part of any relationship is learning to fix. Apologize when you are wrong.
A Message to Schools
“I was flogged for not paying my school fees” – why can teachers not understand the fact that children can not provide for themselves, there is no reason whatsoever that justifies students being flogged for not paying their school fees. It is understandable to send them out of class but flogging or physically harming a student should never be an option.
“I was flogged more than others because I didn’t cry” – There have been cases where a child is being flogged for whatever reason and he makes it clear the flogging is not helping, teachers in return take out more frustration on the student, pull down their clothes sometimes and make sure the cane hits properly. Animalistic! The aim of “correction” as being defeated and it should be discouraged everywhere it is being practiced. Getting named as the most brutal teacher is not a diamond plaque, you need to do better.
“I was flogged because I failed a class test” – Failure never defines anyone. Everyone in life would have their share of failures. Flogging me after failing won’t increase my level of intelligence. Instead of flogging, why can’t the school pay extra attention to kids who are struggling academically and break the cycle of flogging and looking down on them afterwards? I’m happy for people who rise above their failures but what about those that never did
We need a change!
Written by Dee Real Drizzy.
Follow on Twitter @Dee_Real_Drizzy