Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Unnecessary Violence

The other day I was walking to work when I saw a bicycle taxi coming towards me with two little boys on the back on their way to nursery school. These boys live near the Youth Center and almost always come to play in the afternoon here. The bike operator was a man a little taller than myself and lean. As I took my headphones off to greet them I noticed that the littlest boy (who is no more than three years old) was having a temper tantrum over something while riding on the back of the bike. The man riding the bike was furious and preceded to dismount the bike with the utmost purpose. At that moment I watched him repetitively hit this little boy across his face and on the top of his head. I walked right over to the man and grabbed his arm to make him stop. I yelled at him in Luganda and English that he had no right to do what he was doing and to stop hitting this little boy. He turned to me and said sometimes children just need to be hit.

I was stunned. He had at least stopped beating the child and they continued on their way to school, but I was sick at the fact that this man thought it was perfectly okay to do that to a defenseless child. Now, I know this happens in America as well and when I have seen it happen in public I step in a say something always. However, in America I guess I just don't see the lack of remorse, anger and stupidity that I saw from this man.

Here in Uganda children are subject to corporal punishment in their schools and homes due to the fact that they are caned when they behave badly. I don't want to say I've become sensitized to seeing and/or hearing this happen in my community, but it is something that I have grown accustom too. It is difficult to explain to a parent here that beating their child is not the most effective way to teach them to behave a different way. Depending on who you're talking to some parents won't even take the time to listen.

It is hard to accept the fact that while you are here as a volunteer to help with behavior change that most people do not see caning or beating their children as a negative. Therefore the behavior sadly will not change. It is something I have a hard time with on a day to day basis, but hopefully with time people will see that there are other ways to discipline.

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