Parents have no rights to recourse

2017-11-09 06:00
house of truthThembile Ndabeni

house of truthThembile Ndabeni

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After the introduction of our Constitution in 1996, things began to fall apart.

Teachers suddenly found themselves unable to discipline their subjects.

With this in mind, one is forced to reference Xhosa poet laureate S.E.K. Mqhayi who drew from the wisdom of old with these prescient words in one of his great poems regarding the sinking of the Mendi ship.

“Thina nto zaziyo asothukanga nto,”. He might as well have been referring to the present status quo, regarding the beating of children by their own parents.

“To those of us in the know, nothing shocks us anymore,” to paraphrase the verse.

Using the rod is never a harmful way of bringing up one’s offspring.

Our Constitution has got both good and bad aspects to it, and I wish to reiterate that its good side must always be appreciated.

It has opened doors that were closed shut by Colonialism and Apartheid.

For generations of blacks with adequate qualifications but who were deprived of opportunities because of racist legislation, the Constitution was a huge relief.

Blacks, because of their colour, were undermined and treated as lesser human beings, deprived of opportunities and the attendant privileges.

However, the downside of our Constitution is being deprived something that is more than what Colonialism and Apartheid took away.

Two critical areas that define people of South Africa is culture and religion.

In almost all the cultures of the national groups, spanking a child has been part and parcel of their value systems.

Africans and Afrikaners are synonymous on the issue of hiding, in fact in norms and values generally.

This right has been taken away now.

Giving a child a hiding is part and parcel in the upbringing of children in society.

Spanking is not a matter of preparing the child for smacking but is a lesser form, which serves as a critical deterrent for a particular error.

Moving away from being “nice” to a child doesn’t mean cruelty.

As a child growing under the condition of spanking, I don’t remember any abuse.

Instead it worked as a deterrent because it refrains a child from wrong doing from the initial stages of life.

In IsiXhosa we say: “umthi ugotywa uselula” (you bend the tree in its early stage).

If you fail to discipline a child at an early stage then you must be prepared to suffer consequences.

You can say it’s cruel but it worked for those who applied it.

If a child won’t listen even as they being told to refrain from touching an object of harm, they would learn a painful lesson, once they bring their hands to said object, especially fire.

Once they feel the heat of the fire with the hand, they won’t do it again.

“Hata” is the refrain used by Xhosa speakers to warn children of the dangers of fire.

After that they will stay away from the fire and once they see a fire burning, would be the ones warning you not to touch it instead. “hata”.

Therefore a spank is a mild hiding suitable for the young according to their age, preparing them for the future.

It is not only a deterrent but also a precautionary measure for the young ones to know that there are consequences or a punishment for doing wrong or for being ‘curious’, as in the case of touching the fire.

If children are not made to know or deterred from wrong-doing, what kind of foundation are we laying for them as far as precautions are concerned.

What kind of future in adulthood care we preparing for them?

Declaring spanking illegal is taking away the little, the least and the last form of authority from the parents.

Afterall, it means that parents are declared unfit to raise and thus dicipline their own offspring, making them impotent.

As things go, these laws are making us parents who raise their children at gunpoint. A mistake is a bullet, so to speak.

The irony in all of this is that this never happened under the system that deprived us our rights as human beings; Apartheid.

With this democracy, we seem to have shot ourselves in the feet.

Everyday we get killed, everyday we get deprived of authority over what is our God-given right.

Relatively speaking, all the national groups in their belief systems still hold that the aspect of bringing up their children in the manner they know best, is taken away from them.

Who is the South African nation, is it the lawmakers or the citizenry.

A parent was created and given authority by God, yet everyday we see these rights being taken away.

What would the powers that be tell the parents what to do or not what to do next, when the freedom to discipline our own children is taken away.

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