Assaulting Children as Tradition

(TW: child abuse)


In about a week, I found myself in discussions among Black folks with regards to corporal punishment, or as I’ve been calling it, assaulting one’s own children, and I’ve been saying the same thing over and over until well, time to blog about it!

Beating kids is made something like a rite of passage (“My Momma and my Daddy beat my ass and I’m gonna bet my kids’ asses too!”).  Comedians make jokes about it, it gets featured in movie, either seriously or as another joke (the credit sequence of the first House Party movie), any infraction is ass whoppin’ time, because that’s how you get these bad-ass kids in line.  Kid talks too much, disrespects their parents, acts out? Obviously, you’re not beating them enough at home!

Just writing that makes me sick.  When did this become okay?

Not matter how many studies and personal stories come out against child assault, people, especially in the Black community, don’t want to hear them.  “It worked for me, so I’ll work for mine!”  It’s strange those who think they are “fine” are perfectly okay with assaulting someone smaller, weaker, and younger than them.  Just because they brought that ‘someone” into the world.

Some try to sugar coat it, “Oh, I just pop them on the butt, it’s fine!” or “It’s alright when they’re little, but after they hit puberty, it’s abuse!”

How about this: You tell your friends that the dog’s pooped on the floor and you smacked him once.  Just once.  No big deal, right?

Or how about this: Your partner or spouse has just talked back to you, so you smack them.  Just once.  That’s okay, right?  It’s just a swat.  Hey, they made you mad. They should have known better.

I’m hoping like mad that you answered that they are Big Deals (if not, get out).  If they are big deals when done to animals and partners, why is it suddenly okay to do it to a child?  A child you have brought into your life and are tasked to teach about the ways of the world.  They trust you, they look to you.  And you strike them.  Usually when you are angry with them.

And whenever I hear people claim that “one swat”, then turn around and share war stories about the beatings they got like it’s a damned battle scar.  “Man, my Daddy made me get all the way naked.” “My Momma made me pick out the switch, and I’d better not bring back a little one!”, “I had to pick out the switch for my siblings and if I got the wrong size, we both got beat!”  And they laugh.  Laugh!

These is some slavery-time BS right there.  If you think about it, really think about those scenarios, you can see that there’s more than just ‘discipline” involved.  There’s humiliation (removal of clothing, or pulling down of the pants, or being beaten in front of neighborhood or friends), psychological manipulation in the picking out of the implement that will be used to punish, and getting your siblings involved, either directly (picking out the switch) or indirectly (beating hard enough and loud enough for them to hear).  And this is okay? Attempting to break down a child’s will so that they obey your every word and do right by you.  Are you sure you want to be called Mom or Dad?  Because that’s some “Yes Massa” level shit.

“But Femi! Beating a child teaches him respect? My kids respect me after I’ve whooped their asses!” Really?  If someone regularly beats the crap out of you the moment you stepped out of line, would you “respect” that person?  If someone bullied and belittled you for fucking up, would you “respect” that person?

Is that what you want? A kid who never questions you, never disobeys, never defies, never questions, never speaks unless spoken to?  Because, that’s a slave. I just stopped by to tell you that there is not a child on this planet that will behave like that all the time, if at all. Hell, that’s not even a parent on this planet who actually wants a kid like that.  How boring can that be? Can’t be all that fun for the kid either.  I mean, how does a kid learn if they don’t stretch those boundaries? How do they learn actual consequences for their actions? How is a child supposed to figure out that ‘hitting isn’t okay” if you make the exception “unless Momma is REAL mad”.

Too many parents expect respect, and are perfectly willing to accept fear. Fear is quiet, fear is obedient, not because it makes sense to, but because it keeps Massa from getting mad. And if it’s fear you want, you keep beating on them.

Assaulting Children as Tradition