by Thando Mgobhozi
It was a normal evening in our household and I was in my bedroom busy with whatever while my mom was preparing supper in the kitchen. My grandmother was watching tv in the lounge and my nephew and niece were still outside playing with their friends. I remember hearing strange noises coming from the front door which is the entry to the lounge of our house where my grandmother was sitting. I recognized the voices and one of them was my mom’s voice. So I leaned in towards the door of my bedroom to listen carefully.
“Hai Hai Hai Hai Hai Hai!!! Ay’yenziwa lento oy’yenzayo,” (what you’re doing is not acceptable) my mom said vehemently. The noise levels just kept getting louder and louder and by this time I was really curious to know what’s going on, I wanted to know what could have possibly made my mother neglect the pots that she was busy within the kitchen to go outside. My heart was already beating so fast and I quickly rushed to the front door to see what was happening.
As soon as I stepped out of the front door I saw a group of children jumping up and down with much enthusiasm while they carefully observed what they were witnessing with their eyes. I recognized some of the faces as some of the children were my nephew and nieces’ friends. As I got closer and closer to the scene, I see my nephew pinned to the wall of our house by a woman who I was not familiar with. She held him by the collar of his t-shirt as if she was trying to strangle him while she was addressing my mother, grandmother and my aunt who was standing on my nephew’s side doing her best to protect him. He just stood there looking helplessly with his face facing down towards the ground. I soon learnt that my nephew was involved in a fight with the woman’s son. It seems as though her son ran home crying to tell his mother about the events that had transpired between him and my nephew and she came down to our house because she wanted revenge for her son.
“What’s happening and why do you want to hit our child?” my grandmother asked the woman. My mother, who kept going into the house and coming back outside because of her kitchen duties stood next to the burglar with a dishcloth in her one hand while she rested her other arm on the wall. “What we know is that we are not allowed to hit children and corporal punishment was banned,” she said. I thought about this statement in my head later on after the whole incident and about all the hidings that she gave me when I was younger, I guess it didn’t matter then. She kept nodding her head in an attempt to show the woman that she was disagreeing with what she was saying when the woman was trying to talk to her.
“Listen, my love, when children do wrong you have to give them a hiding as a measure of discipline,” said the woman while she looked straight into my mother’s eyes without letting go of my nephew. I just stood there listening to the whole altercation not knowing if I should say something and express how I feel about this matter. I eventually did and I didn’t agree with how the woman went about the whole situation. She came into the yard of our house like a beast so determined that she was going to give my nephew hiding right in front of us as if we would have just stood there and watched her. She expected us to understand where she was coming from because that is the way she raises her children and so should every parent in the world. Also, I failed to understand why she couldn’t come to us first to explain the matter and let us decide how to handle it from there. She seemed like a person with a lot of violence and anger, she seemed like a bully. We eventually managed to get her outside of our yard.
Many parents all over the country had mixed emotions about this ruling some even stating that they’ll raise their children as they see fit. The Constitutional Court has basically stated that spanking a child is illegal and would be seen as breaking the law.
The Freedom of Religion South Africa approached the court to rule on whether reasonable chastisement, which includes spanking, is constitutional. Their appeal was dismissed and the Chief Justice insisted that there were other ways to discipline children.
Yes, there are many ways to instil discipline in children without the first option being to spank them or give them a hiding. Children have a rebellious spirit by nature and resorting to spanking as a first option will sometimes just make them more rebellious. The truth is you only understand why something is wrong the older you get and that’s when it makes more sense. Parents should always talk to their children thoroughly about why they do not want them to do something and explore other forms of punishment.
Parenthood comes with a lot of pressure and sometimes parents find themselves taking out their frustrations on their children unintentionally, but it happens. It’s an emotional subject for parents to deal with especially when someone tells you how to raise a child that you birthed on your own and also makes you feel like you’re not raising your child in a proper manner when you thought you were only doing what’s right for your child. At the end of the day parents only want what’s best for their children and don’t want them to make the same mistakes they made.
There is no record in history that proves that spanking or hitting your children changes their behavior and makes them become better adults in the future.