By Olaitan Oye-Adeitan
While in the midst of some ophthalmologists who came on medical outreach to Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria, some time ago, a young, dark in complexion beautiful girl was brought before the medical team.
The girl in her teens, appeared calm and promising but was assisted because she had a visual impairment.
While waiting to be attended to, I learnt the sight challenge of the girl was not congenital but the consequence of the scolding she received from her uncle.
The uncle was said to have angrily slapped her in the face for misbehaviour and the resultant effect was that the girl had sight impairment, which led to her unenvisaged appearance before the opthalmologist.
Consider another case, a tragic one indeed: a little boy was asked to stoop down by stretching one of his legs backwards while touching the ground with one toe.
The child was forgotten on that spot, and eventually, he gave up the ghost.
Slapping the face, giving a child knock on the head, hitting the belly and employing all manners of corporal punishment to the extent of inflicting injuries all in the name of disciplining a child are very common among parents, especially in the African setting.
However, these forms of punishment are inimical to a child’s physical and mental well-being.
Corporal or physical punishment is defined by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which oversees the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as”any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light”.
Some psychologists argue that corporal punishment can make children fearful of their parents and encourage them to hide.
Medical experts on their part, explained that the force of a slap could be injurious to the face region. Slap to the eye can lead to trauma, including retinal detachment and possible blindness, while slaps to the ears can cause ruptured eardrums, hearing loss, or tinnitus.
Though children may misbehave at times because they are still growing and under tutelage, it is advisable to focus on the shortcomings and teach them to change rather than subject them to life-threatening punitive measures.
A child may also get used to a particular punishment or form of discipline constantly meted out to him with the measure failing to achieve the desired correction.
Some forms of punishment can equally turn some children into bullies, and should such children grow up with these tendencies, they become belligerent or aggressive adults, men who could easily hit their wives or women who pounce on their husbands at the slightest provocation.
Cursing a child as well is not an option. The dangers of raining curses are not easily seen, as the Yoruba would say” Epe kii ja loojo”, meaning a curse bids its time before baring its fangs.
As a parent, one must study the punitive measures that would bring about transformation, and avoid those that could bring ruin upon a child.
That is not to say you should spare the rod but use it wisely and lovingly.