Where is the cry to end child abuse?

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.

5 thoughts on “Where is the cry to end child abuse?

  1. Thank you so much for this!

    This was such a great blog entry. Especially because it is such a pertinent issue within our community that can get buried so easily by all the other ‘issues’ that confront the world today. In New Zealand, our community is particularly over-represented in child abuse statistics. It’s disturbing for me that so many children are being neglected and abused by the people that are supposed to be their carers, their primary protectors. Before I became a teacher, I didn’t think about this issue a lot. It was in the back of my mind. But the more I’ve worked with children the more I want to bundle up my little ones and protect them from the world. How can anyone abuse children to the point of taking their lives? It astounds me, and it shows that there is something wrong in our society.

    As a child I was beaten regularly and heavily, to the point where I wasn’t able to sit for days, had lumps on my head, blood came out sometimes during the beatings, and being Samoan it was just considered normal. But It was lucky I didn’t rebel like a lot of our youth do today. But key will be educating and changing norms in our society!

    Malo Lava!

    1. I’ve often thought that teachers and school admins are in a difficult situation when dealing with this issue. On the one hand you don’t want to make assumptions but you also have to look after the welfare and safety of the child. It is a very troubling thing to hear reports of or see first hand the abuse a child endures, hoping that it does not go too far.

      Thanks for your thoughts and continued success in your very difficult and noble career path.

  2. So sad, and so true. It’s hard for me to talk about the discipline I received as a child with people that surround me. My husband is a palangi and his family don’t believe in using physical force of any kind. Some of them think that it is child abuse to spank your kid. I, too, was lucky to have father that knew how to walk the line between discipline and abuse. I was also extremely well-behaved so I really never had anything much worse than a quick slap to the back of the head by one of my aunties. I think what is hard for people to understand is that my dad used physical punishment to show me consequences for actions. He did NOT use it as a means of Control, Anger, or Intimidation. Unlike the Judge in Texas who was beating his 16-year-old daughter here,


    I watched that video and in made me sick. His language, his tone, his demeanor was not about teaching his child right from wrong, it was about making her feel stupid, worthless, and blaming her for his actions. It’s an unfortunate plague in our society that people don’t want to acknowledge exists.

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