A ‘good’ beating?

There are parents who smack their children- most agree that a smack is a “pat on the bum”. Then you get parents who choose positive reinforcement, time-outs or removal of privileges such as going out or watching TV. A conversation on Twitter revealed something not necessarily widely known: Some parents inflict beatings on their children- physical violence with such force that it leaves bruises or draws blood- and some adults are even suggesting that this method of discipline helped them behave. But is there really such a thing as a "good beating"? Take a look at some of the comments, and decide for yourself.

The conversation was kicked off by local Twitter user @khayadlanga, who asked:

“Do you remember the last beating you got from one of your parents? What was it for?”

The responses were varied, some shocking* (Spelling, grammar uncorrected):
  • “my dad beats u and tells u to laugh. And believe me u gona laugh!”
  • “Threatened the helper @home with a knife, I got the beat down of my life from my folks”
  • “my mom would beat me up for not washing the dishes and be told to pack and leave, while packing, you'll be beaten for that.”
  • “my mom beat me up for having sex with my father but we r cool now”
  • “never been beaten, but my mom once threw a knife @ my bro for insulting her. Landed in his ass. We still laugh about it today.”
  • “Smacks made some of us lawyers, doctors & engineers. A lil discipline goes a long way.”
  • “And my mom wanted to beat me 4 menstruating, for growing boobs at 11.”
  • “can't remember why but I was 10-Mother stabbed me-with a dessert spoon-she stabbed me like you stab someone with a knife.”
  • “eish was also stabbed on my both hands with a dinner plate because I was drunk @16”
  • “ Oomf stayed late after a choir practice. She got home, her dad grabbed her cheeks raised her from the floor as her mum beat her.”
  • “Abuse is a word that didn't exist back then! Quite frankly, we consider those beatings to be fond memories. Lol!”
What was curious is that the general tone of the responses was one of mirth, as if sharing these memories of violence was amusing and cathartic. Some people remarked that seeing that others had experienced violence made them feel relief that it hadn’t only been them.

There were also many outbursts of horror that parents could inflict such rage on their kids. To adults who grew up in homes without violence, the idea that a parent could beat a child was shocking. There seems to be the common thread that for some parents disciplining an older child involves a show of strength as the parent asserts his or her authority.

Protect vulnerable children

A report by RAPCAN found that corporal punishment is widespread in South Africa, and that the worst beatings take place in poorer households: “… the most severe forms of punishment were experienced in the homes and schools of low income environments… corporal punishment very often escalates into serious physical assault, many of the beatings children suffer at the hands of adults would be considered completely unacceptable if committed against an adult”.

The report added that “trying to define “acceptable” levels of violence is an exercise that will be impossible to control and continue to make children vulnerable to physical and psychological harm”.

It is clear that violence has been, and is being, used by parents to discipline children, but society appears to be leaning away from this. Adults who were beaten as children are often conflicted in how they will discipline their own children. Some suggest that “it was good enough for me, it’ll be good enough for them”, while others say that the fear, trauma and abuse they experienced mean that they would never inflict those on a child. Government, NGOs and social workers all agree that violence in the home, especially against children is unacceptable.

The law in SA says that parents may discipline their kids using corporal punishment provided that said punishment doesn't leave a mark on their bodies, but neglects to discuss emotional trauma.

*Identities have been concealed due to the nature of some of the allegations.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Do you agree that beating children is unacceptable?
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