Child’s Rights and Discipline: The UNCOMMON Theory (16)

Opening Charge

‘I think the standard of child discipline and development is very high. Only few, who have exposed themselves to proper orientation and enlightenment, attain the standard. They are the few, who would not cross the thin line between chastisement and abuse. They are the few, who have the dexterity to maintain the much needed balance for the present and future peace, stability, completeness and soundness of the child. The majority, who have embarked on the delicate exercise from the comfort zone of trial and error, will surely fall short of the standard and in abundance reap regrets now and in the future.’

It is new week and I am grateful to God for granting me grace and life to do this advocacy today. The advocacy is my life. I mean Social Empowerment Advocacy, without which life means no passion to me. I am encouraged daily by the dividends of the advocacy. What dividends, do I talk about? I mean the lives, which are transformed.

Dear friends please join me as I share with you the 10th core habit of a purposeful, disciplined and effective disciplinarian: Avoid double-jeopardy:

Our law forbids a person being punished for the same wrong twice. It is called double jeopardy. The law believes it will not serve the cause of justice for a person to be made to suffer for one wrong twice.

In my field work in the last 15 years, I can testify that children get chastised for same wrong twice or more in Nigeria.

Take for example a child, who is exercising his/her right to play and slips in the process and falls down. The first response of the parents a lot of times is to either hurl abusive words on the child or even cane the child. I believe that when the child falls as a result of play, the falling is already a form of chastisement. The process has already chastised him/her. To hurl abuses at the child or beat him/her is double jeopardy. If we agree that pain is a teacher, it is important that we note that the pain the child felt when he falls may be enough to teach him/her a lesson.

Another way to look at this is that a child falling down while playing may not be a wrong after all. He/she is just expressing his/his right to play, which is his/her right to be a child. All that the child may need in times like this is conform and encouragement. A lot of times children are chastised for what is normal in child development. This is in fact witch hunting, chastising a child for acting in accordance with the dictates of nature. Imagine an adult who visits the office toilet and as he comes out of the toilet, he gets a dirty slap from a colleague, whose office is located close to the toilet, saying the odour emanating from the toilet is offensive.

I have also seen instances where a child is accused of a wrong by the custodian and he/she is subjected to harsh words and canning. In most cases, this is done in anger. Anger breeds abuse because it robs the one who is angry objectivity. In the first instance, harsh words amount to emotional abuse. Canning, when it is done in anger(if it has to be done at all) may lead to abuse. In actual fact, this will not be a case of double jeopardy but a case of double abuses.

How does the law of the land identity double jeopardy? First, the law states the elements of an offence. For someone to be charged before a court of law his/her acts or omissions must conform to the elements stated in the law. The law also prescribes the penalty. The spelt out penalty becomes the boundaries for the adjudicators.

To protect our children from double jeopardy even when they go wrong, I think it is important to determine ahead the type of chastisement, which will be meted to a child for a particularly type of wrong. More importantly, it is important to determine our attitude beforehand and we develop ourselves to adhere to same. When this is done, it becomes the guideline.

I think the standard of child discipline and development is very high. Only few, who have exposed themselves to proper orientation and enlightenment, attain the standard. They are the few, who would not cross the thin line between chastisement and abuse. They are the few, who have the dexterity to maintain the much needed balance for the present and future peace, stability, completeness and soundness of the child. The majority, who have embarked on the delicate exercise from the comfort zone of trial and error, will surely fall short of the standard and in abundance reap regrets now and in the future.

I beg to take a bow at this point. I hope you found your stay here worth your time. Do have an INSPIRED week.

Think the Child…Think Today…Think the Future…

POINT 2 PONDER:

‘In the first instance, harsh words amount to emotional abuse. Canning, when it is done in anger (if it has to be done at all) may lead to abuse. In actual fact, this will not be a case of double jeopardy but a case of double abuses.

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