The belt buckle versus the child

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, November 24, 2017

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Here we go again, one more time facing another report in the news of the day of a video featuring a young child, said to be no more than four or five years old, being battered at the hands of her mother. The power of communication technology presented images taken from the footage in which the mother and child are clearly seen facing each other. The mother venting her anger, her daughter looking understandably confused. Another photographic glimpse showed the child trying to get away from the beating involving a belt and buckle, a painful instrument when used in a beating.

I couldn't bear to watch the video, and reading the events in the newspapers wasn't easier either. The report stated there had been some form of dispute which the mother was complaining about and wanted her child to avoid. From what was reported in print, the mother was warning the child against keeping company with someone at her school. Whomever was the object of the mother's anger, she threatened to use the buckle the next time with the intention to deliver even more sharp and painful blows. Further reports have said the child suffered from injuries inflicted on her by her mother.

Across the nation, people have been reacting with anger and despair at the suffering of yet another child. Popular opinion is, we seem not to know how to treat children. While we have been talking and talking about how to administer effective discipline, the abuse of our children continues. Not everybody loses sleep worrying about it. “Ah nuh nutten” the hard-hearts are heard proclaiming as they tell of their own experiences of what some people call discipline.

Latest news of the mother and the flogged child is that the case is to be heard before the court. An attorney has been appointed for the mother's defence. The law will have its day. The public may hear about a belt and belt buckle, instruments of pain for a child. What will be the outcome of this case, like others? Who will defend the child? How long can our country, which is boasting of all kinds of successes, continue to live this way? What future do we believe awaits our children? We want the best for our children and for them to be at their best, but will belt and buckle continue to beat fear into the hearts of children?

Every now and then we invest heavily in some project or other, launched with a sense of hope that we can tackle the violent behaviour around us, and that we will produce a happy nation of happy children this time. With a sense of hope, we set off down the road, as it were, only to meet ourselves coming round the corner. What really have we been achieving?

One of the areas of concern is how to control difficult students in our schools. We have brought police personnel into the schoolyard, and guidance counsellors into the schoolrooms. Do they get support from parents and the wider community?

We've done this and that, but the challenge still continues. Could it be that we need to show love and care in raising our children? This is not a poppy show, it is something which we need to understand and put into appropriate action. So many of our children are growing up with bitterness learned in the world around them.

The Government is planning another attempt at banishing physical punishment in schools, homes, and so forth. Teachers are warned against hitting children, and sometimes guardians have been brought before the court. While some teachers and parents may feel it necessary to chastise or beat in order to control “di bad pickney dem”, certainly we should not treat children as if they were 'beating sticks', as the elders used to say. I wonder how many have the patience to not just dish out punishment, but also to give encouragement? Children certainly need it more than we believe.

Second City matters

Montego Bay is accustomed to being in the headlines with good and bad stuff. Today, it is in turmoil once again. This time, a flood brought on by heavy rains which, on Wednesday evening, wreaked havoc — the likes of which had not been seen in the area for a long while. No one wanted to see or hear of this in the height of tourist season.

As some residents of the area have been heard to say, “We have been having enough crosses as it is,” the “crosses” being the alarming incidence of murder. This week's “crosses” of having to swim to safety on the streets is certainly not what 'The Bay' wanted to have in their midst, but the rain did not seem to know better.

The images in the media reports are disturbing and, in many instances, frightening, capturing the cars piled on top of each other, while the garbage and muddy water were choking the city streets. The flood caused massive traffic pile-ups, and unfortunate motorists who stopped at a service station expecting to fill up with petrol found their cars afloat in the raging waters.

“It is like an Old Testament event,” was the view of a 'born and grow Montegonian'. She said much of the blame has to do with “the Creek” which, when not properly cleaned and cleared, can create danger for the town. She has seen the damage and confusion caused when flood water backs up as it did the other night. Whether this is the cause of the present disaster which The Bay is experiencing is news being debated. The various agencies which have responsibility for the maintenance of the city will have a hard time restoring the affected areas.

Imagine how many in The Bay have been giving thought to the minister of tourism and affiliates, wondering how they are feeling with all the preparations for the major tourism conference set to start next week. Let's hope that they can clean up in time. “Nuh mind, MoBay, nuh mind,” even the mighty elements can tell 'who a rule'.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@yahoo.com.

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