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Parents should be allowed to discipline their children, that does not have to mean violence

Parents should be allowed to discipline their children, that does not have to mean violence

I cannot think of a better song than Whitney Houston’s iconic rendition of The Greatest Love of All which avers that “…children are our future”. Then there is the sardonic song Hey, Jude by the Beatles and Teach Your Children by Crosby Stills & Nash. Both Bob Dylan and Joan Baez exhort our children to “Stay forever young”, and who can ignore the poignancy of Christopher Robin is Saying His Prayers?

There are songs which don’t have happy content, like Suzanne Vega’s Luka about a boy who is abused yet cannot reveal anything to anybody. We also must not forget that What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong is a song sung over visuals of Vietnamese children being burnt with napalm.

We are approaching the Advent, when we will hear the perennials like Johnny Mathis’s classic When a Child is Born. And the universal Silent Night, Holy Night, which really speaks about some measure of rejection of a child. Personally, I dread the thumping belting out of Boney M’s hoary old classic, Mary’s Boy-child.

Novels abound with the experience of childhood, but I shall resist listing them, as I have touched on Alice in Wonderland and the prince-brothers on the island of Serendip who educated themselves by search-and-discover. It is important to note that authors, poets, songwriters – indeed the whole corpus of creative artists – have found memorable inspiration for timeless works of art featuring children. Who can forget Edgar Degas’s Little Dancer or the iconic Manneken Pis (Little Pissing Man) of the bronze fountain sculpture in Brussels?

Which brings me to the point of this week’s offering. We have a country where there are very few children left. Most of them appear to be extensions of the ANC military wing because they are encouraged to defy their parents. Children can physically abuse teachers and wait while the authorities investigate the circumstances. Meanwhile, the teacher either bleeds to death or we lose a great educator. It is said, sadly, that the access to state-funded abortion is, unbelievably, used as an unthinkable method of birth control.

Yes, dear reader, the unthinkable becomes thinkable when parents abdicate their God-given right to teach their children well. The spurious argument of violence comes from the time when policemen were allowed to mete out cuts with a cane steeped in brine to ensure a lasting welt. Granted, the memory of that abuse influenced the questionable legislation of banning corporal punishment in schools.

But it worries me that we can have a stand-off between a government (especially the one we have inherited) and the biological or legal guardian of the young. The tree, the saying goes, should be moulded and guided into shape while it is young. We are told to punish early in life for present tears, rather than abdicate our authority.

And I am fully aware of, and respect the arguments that rage against the abuse of physical castigation. It’s like arguing about the death penalty. The business world chortles when children are rewarded for dastardly behaviour by bribery with a cellphone or other expensive gizmos.

Punishment doesn’t have to mean violence. But to remove a parent’s right to deal with his child without threat of public civic action and reaction is not on for me. Christ advised the disciples: “Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God”.

The Holy Qur’an says clearly that the highest reward in Jannah is for those who speak truth to children. I myself was hell on wheels in the old days when a length of cane was both pointer and punishment.

I am not asking for that. I am just asking: Who inserted a comma after “Suffer…” in the words of Christ? Sing softly with me: When a child

is born …

* Alex Tabisher

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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