South Africans should not limit their outrage to the most horrific cases of child abuse, but rather to all instances where adults use physical violence as a means of controlling children, according to local advocacy group, RAPCAN. The declaration comes after a Hanover Park man appeared before the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Monday, on charges of beating his two-year old child to death. Christopher Williams is accused of assaulting his daughter for over than six hours, with the infant later succumbing to her injuries in hospital.
The incident is part of an alarming trend of brutality against children, which has become part of the daily occurrences of many households across the country.
Rhe child advocacy group has expressed cynicism at the “momentous outrage” the incident has provoked, especially since such cases were not isolated.
“Surely it is too late to be outraged when a child is already dead. Surely something must be down long before we reach that point,” said RAPCAN’s executive director, Christina Nomdo.
At the forefront of the debate is the use of corporal punishment as a manner of discipline, with the practice drawing criticism and support in equal parts. Nomdo said there was a need for a mind-shift on how adults engaged with children and how respect was demonstrated. This was as opposed to resorting to more violent means to get their message across.
“I’m sure there will be many people calling for the right to control their children with physical assault. This makes no sense to me, and evidence shows us that that’s really where the issue around violence originates,” she suggest, claiming that those who advocated corporal punishment were effectively complicit in the abuse of children.
The counter argument to this has long been that a more physical means of discipline has helped instil a degree of self-respect amongst the current generation of adults; those who were often subjected to such forms of punishment. Despite this, Nomdo said parents need take a more loving form of engagement with their child, instead of going with the “cycle of violence”.
“We are an instant gratification society, so we want you to stop misbehaving now. We seek to assault you and then when people grow up they claim they are fine, but they are not. They’re actually traumatised, and perpetrate that kind of anger and humiliation on their own children,” she added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)