Disclaimer: The words below represent my personal views. They should not be taken as the official opinion of my employer or any organizations with which I volunteer.
When the master did this to the ancestors in front of a few slaves, it was inhumane.
When a man does this to his wife in private it is domestic violence.
When a bully does this on a school yard, it is assault.
But when a parent does it, on the Internet for billions to see, it’s discipline?
I don’t understand how anyone could think it’s OK to do this to their child. Actually, I do a little bit, because I’ve heard so many arguments in favor of different levels of physical “discipline” to understand that they tend to revolve around a sense of ownership.
That’s my child and I will discipline him/her the way I see fit.
They don’t understand our culture. This is how we discipline our children.
How can you come in my house and tell me how I’m supposed to raise my kids?
When I watch a video like this, I’m reminded of the way in which slaves were beat by their masters. They were called out aggressively for behavior that was not in keeping with the wishes of the master or the overseer. The were made to be ashamed and compelled to acknowledge their shortcoming. Then, they were beaten – and further shamed – publicly. This was done to increase the intensity of their punishment and to deter disobedience in the observers.
That’s exactly what we see in this video and in videos like it that have made their way around social media. It’s as if we’ve adopted the slave owner’s tactics as part of our culture and held them up proudly as an example of how we raise our children.
First, let me say that I’m not claiming that every time physical discipline is used is abuse. Discipline (which is not synonymous with punishment) means to teach and to guide. In my non professional, non expert opinion (and certainly not speaking in any work related or ministry related official capacity) physical discipline that does not cause physical, psychological, or emotional harm to the child may at times be an acceptable tool among an array of other discipline tools. However, this is not what we see in the video above. Instead, we see a grown man attacking a child, intimidating her, and repeatedly striking her in a potentially dangerous fashion. What’s worse is he does it for the world to see. Let’s examine what takes place in the video:
- He forces her to self-identify, literally in front of the whole world, that she is a disrespectful and promiscuous girl. He identifies her by her first and last name, ensuring that billions worldwide can now associate her specifically with those negative characteristics. He also calls out the name of the man she was involved with. Now people can go find him and use information about him to further shame the girl.
- He beats her with a belt without much regard for which part of her body he strikes. This is dangerous. There is the potential for real injury and disfigurement to her face as well as other parts of her body.
- He posts the video online (and let’s not let whoever was behind the camera off the hook – that person is culpable, too). As stated above, this means that this girl is now being punished in full view of the entire world.
- Clearly the goal is to intimidate, humiliate, and frighten, not to teach and guide. This is abusive punishment, not stern discipline.
Sadly, there are many videos like this. One, which I can’t even bring myself to watch, involves a mother beating her daughter for being a THOT (That H– Over There). Yes, a mother called her daughter a whore in front of the whole world.
This makes me wonder, when people say, “But that’s how my mom raised me,” if we could trace the line of physical abuse in homes back to the plantation or back to the days where it was acceptable for men to beat their wives and children because, in essence, society viewed them as his property.
Do you realize that it’s entirely possible that this little girl will grow up and go on a job interview, only to find that her potential employer viewed this video? This is out there to be viewed by her future boss, her future classmates, her future professor, her future husband.
And why do we have to put everything on social media? It was bad enough when people put every little detail of their day up, but now we have to tell the world how we’re punishing our children? And this is not “my child was ungrateful so I took them to volunteer at a soup kitchen and here’s a video of our family feeding the homeless.” No, this is “look at how horrible my child is. Let me shame them publicly.”
I’m all for holding children accountable for their behaviors. I totally believe in finding creative ways to discipline children that really make them think about their behaviors and help them to learn and grow. However, doing physical harm to a child (or doing something that creates serious risk of physical harm) is not acceptable. Publicly shaming a child through social media – creating a permanent record of their punishment that is readily acceptable worldwide – is not acceptable. When we do these things, we scar our children physically, mentally, and emotionally.
A child’s misbehavior is an opportunity for learning, not an excuse for adults to let out their frustration or get a few laughs.
That’s how the slave master dealt with us, because he owned us. Our children are a gift. They are our legacy. They are not our slaves.