Gender Gender

Reactions: Parents, mind children’s punishment

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Children's Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
BELOW is a reaction to last week’s write-up over the sentencing of a mother and an aunt to five years in prison for assaulting their children.
Dear Mrs Chilufya,
Thank you for your write-up of Wednesday, February 7. I read with keen interest that parents and guardians have the responsibility to teach children the difference between right and wrong; a process that calls for tolerance because ‘misbehaviour’ in children is a stage of normal development.

However, it seems some parents and guardians are not very tolerant, as seen by Ruth Kauseni, who burnt her two-year-old son for stealing food, and Brenda Tembo, who punished her 13-year-old niece with a cooking stick. I will not talk much about Brenda’s case as she has appealed to the High Court against the five-year sentence.

Ruth’s case took place in Lusaka and it was through the alertness of neighbours and school authorities that the incident was reported leading to her prosecution and conviction. If the matter was not reported, it is anyone’s guess how long the abuse would have carried on.
I’m sure there are many more such cases happening outside Lusaka, in the name of instilling discipline, and such perpetrators are not held accountable for their actions.
There is urgent need to carry out intensive sensitisation and awareness campaigns in communities so that those who hurt children are accorded similar punishment as those found guilty of gender-based violence or defilement. It is unacceptable to mete out harsh punishments on children because they, too, have rights, which should not be infringed upon.
However, this is not meant to condone misbehaviour, but parents and guardians should be bear in mind that as they discipline children, their aim is to reform, not to disfigure or maim.
From experience, I have learnt that talking and reasoning with a child is more effective to change bad behaviour than by inflicting pain .The more a child is beaten, the naughtier such a child becomes because eventually, the pain out of the beatings becomes ineffective.
And in some cases, when abused children become adults, they, too, become abusers because that is the only form of discipline that they would have been exposed to. Violence in any form should not be tolerated; there are numerous age-appropriate methods of teaching children right from wrong.
Remember, children are our future. Until next week, take care.
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