VIOLENCE IS NOT LOVE!! The prevalent use of corporal punishment in the black community is no secret but the overwhelming positive effects of its use has yet to be seen. So, why as a black community do we defend even excessive use of physical discipline unless it ends in death? Why aren’t bruises, welts and red marks enough to trigger the compassion and guilt in a parent to refrain from using this level of violence against their children? Why do we believe that our use of harsh punishment and discipline will save our children from the brutal and cold treatment that we assume they will receive from America? These are questions that I still ponder after 20 years of working with families in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems.
Now, don’t get me wrong, black people are not the only ones who use corporal punishment when it comes to disciplining their children. About 80% of white and Hispanic parents admit that they spank their kids, too. Lots of Christians defend it as a religious practice and in 19 states it’s still legal for teachers and staff to punish children with spankings at school. (2014, Rutgers University) However, even with that known information, today black mothers are 3 times more likely to be substantiated for child abuse than white mothers in the same circumstances and lose their children to foster care. So, do we still think the risk is worth it? As a black mother, early in my journey I realized that the use of corporal punishment was not the key, despite the pressure from my peers and especially those parents within the black community and being subjected to comments such as “she parents like a white mother!” Being a mother of two black boys, I of course did not want to be accused of making them “soft” or “babying” them, so I remember giving in to the pressures. Just to find out, that violence begets violence, anger begets anger. Then I had to decide is this what I want—to raise an angry black man who believes that his use of violence and power will somehow help him achieve success in society. NOPE..NOT I!!
Yes, I’ve heard black parents’ use of corporal punishment is connected to our experiences of slavery—degradation of the black family, beatings to control, separation of families, and the list goes on. Then, I’ve heard that black parents’ use of corporal punishment is connected to our desire to protect our endangered children from the killers lurking in the bushes. I also heard that mama them was whooped and I was whooped and I turned out ok. (yeah right!) And lastly, I’ve heard that black parents’ use of corporal punishment is connected to our expression of “love” for our children. STOP IT!! As far as I’m concerned, everything that I’ve heard thus far, although very real in someone’s perception is merely an attempt to justify something that is not beneficial with meaningless excuses. Excuses for not really knowing what to do! What ever happened to Loving, Nurturing, Showing Empathy, Giving Affection, and Tenderness?
VIOLENCE IS NOT LOVE!! It’s not love when domestic violence occurs, it’s not love when verbal abuse spills out, it’s not love when kids are bullying someone, and it’s not love when someone murders someone—VIOLENCE IS NOT LOVE!! It doesn’t matter if they’re your children—our precious black children are no longer on the plantation and the property of the slave master and you (their parent) have to prove that you’re in control and can handle them by beating them. You have a choice as to what your child’s outcome will be regardless of the senseless tragedies that have occurred against our young men and in our communities. But when you as a parent contribute to the violence against your children, this is what happens:
14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison in the USA were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen in the general population.
Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.
As many as two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children.
In at least one study, about 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.
About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. (CHILD HELP)
Our children do not deserve to be treated that way, our children deserve a chance at greatness, our children deserve to feel the love of their parent and our children deserve to grow up in environments that foster love and tolerance, not power and violence! So give it to them! The next time, you’re thinking about using abusive corporal punishment as a consequence, think about the consequence!