EDITOR, The Tribune.
IN all my many years of buying and reading the dailies, both The Tribune and The Nassau Guardian, I have never seen anything as ridiculous and nauseating as an editorial letter written to this very newspaper.
In said letter, the writer, calling themselves an “advocate” for corporal punishment, had the gall to say that beating children with belts and other implements, to the point where marks and bruises are left on their bodies, is NOT child abuse, and is in fact exactly what is needed to enforce discipline in schools and keep “vile” students in check. To this person, I ask, in Bahamian vernacular: “You fa real?”
In this country we call The Bahamas, it would seem that beating children is our “national sport”. We make songs about beating children and getting “cut hip”. We brag about “half killing” our children with our neighbours and co workers.
We post videos on Social Media of children getting lashed with belts, beaten with broomsticks, and slapped with open hands. We even draw editorial cartoons about it.
In this country, you’re considered a bad parent if you don’t give your kids a severe licking with any object you can get your hands on. We jubilantly boast about the many “benefits” of beating children, and how it helps to make “good” boys and girls.
It’s sickening to think of how many Bahamians - and Black people in general - are such fervent supporters of this barbaric, antiquated, and wholly ineffective form of discipline known as corporal punishment.
To these people, I ask: if beating children is so effective, why is our crime rate so out of control? If corporal punishment is not child abuse, why is it banned in 57 countries?
If beating children to the point where bruises, marks, and welts are left on the bodies is not abuse, then what is? Broken bones, bloody cuts, internal injuries, perhaps?
Corporal punishment is the last remaining legacy of slavery and White colonial rule. The same barbaric methods that were used to subjugate and control our ancestors in Africa, America, and the Caribbean is now being used to control “unruly” children.
We have all seen the controversial and fiercely debated video of the teacher forcing a student to lean against a wall in a classroom, who was then literally whipped across the back with great force.
The student in question was accused of having a cell phone in class, and even when he said he was not the one with the phone, and eyewitnesses backed up his claim, the teacher whipped him anyway. It was a scene straight out of “Roots”, minus the 21st century modernisation.
It comes as absolutely no surprise whatsoever that a recent report found more than 600 cases of child abuse in this country for one year, with the majority of cases being physical abuse, as well as incidences of child neglect.
I have seen people slap toddlers as young as two full force in the face, while screaming “SHUT UP!” when the child began crying in reaction to pain.
I have seen people strike children in their heads with shoes. I bore witness to a music teacher smashing a 4th grade student, girl, in the head with a text book.
Unbeknownst to the teacher, the girl suffered from a neurological problem that caused nosebleeds, and sure enough, the unfortunate female student began to bleed after getting “crowned” by this nut job teacher. How is this not abuse?
I strongly urge Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd and this FNM government to stop dilly-dallying, stop cowing to the religious fanatics in this country who have completely misinterpreted that infamous Bible verse (you know which one), and ban corporal punishment in all its forms completely.
Until they do, we’ll only see more and more online videos of child beatings on social media, and cases of child abuse will only continue and rise.
June 3, 2019.