They held rallies around the world to show their support for Manu Samoa in the Rugby World Cup this year. All the while, children were being beaten behind closed doors and in full view of the public and there was nary a word about their plight.
All across the globe people are trying to ‘Occupy’ this, raise the debt ceiling over there, legalize that and ban the other but there are children who are brutally beaten, mentally and physically tortured and even murdered in concrete jungles, real jungles and in any town in any place on God’s green earth. We hear about it, talk about it but not a lot is done about it. Or if there is, it’s still not enough.
I grew up in a loving, nurturing home. But that doesn’t mean that my parents ever ‘spared the rod.’ When we needed a little “reminder” about the rules in, around and outside of our home, we were reminded quite emphatically about the expectations and the consequences and sometimes that included a little spanking to accentuate the point.
Thankfully, my parents drew a very clear distinction between discipline and abuse. Sadly, there are still some who think that beating a child or a female into submission is still the most effective way to bend them to our will. My parents often shed tears when they resorted to spanking when we were children, and gradually the spankings evolved into something that we loathed even more – being banned from doing the things that we loved when we neglected our duties, forgot to turn in assignments or turned in incomplete homework or just plain being naughty. To a child or a youth with so much going on outside that we wanted to participate in, that felt more like torture than getting a smack on the buttocks.
When we speak about discipline in our Polynesian and Pacific Island homes we do so tongue in cheek. Sometimes we even reminisce about the days in our youth when we were beaten with one household item or another. For my parents, it was often the final straw after repeated attempts to teach a principle or to correct a behavior. But for some, it is the first and only way. For some children, the discipline is harsh, extreme and downright revolting.
I remember one day as a youth when my dad gave me a good whipping with his leather belt and it literally felt like my backside was going to be black and blue for the rest of my life. What, you might ask was the cause of my dad’s irritation? I had systematically knocked out a whole section of the wooden fence that ran along our property line and separated our backyard from the busy street behind our house – while practicing my fastball. He warned me when he saw me doing it. Not once or twice, not even three times. He warned me repeatedly. My defiance and noncompliance led to a financial situation for him and a bruised butt for me.
I don’t hold that against my dad nor do I hold a grudge for the times that he or my mom punished me for a lot of things that I did without any consideration for its consequences. I learned rather quickly that I did not like the consequences and I eventually changed my attitude and my behavior.
Unfortunately, there are cases like this one that I read earlier today about an eight-year-old who did not stand a chance against a bully who beat her so brutally over a period of 12-months that the child finally succumbed to her beatings after one final fatal blow. Peruse the Internet for news of child abuse and you’ll find dozens of the same headlines on a daily basis. It is an ongoing systemic problem.
In Samoa there are organizations such as Mapusaga o Aiga whose sole purpose is to educate and help alleviate the sufferings and abuses of children and women. But what can we do as parents and adults to stem the tide of abuse?
There are resources available in your cities, on a national level and online to help victims of abuse and to provide information for those who may be in an abusive situation such as ChildHelp.org and PreventChildAbuse.org. Getting help, especially for those who are victims, is a critical step in ending the violence. Not just for those who are suffering the abuse, but also for the abuser to get help. Do your part and let’s end the plague of child abuse today.