05/25/2020 – Deep Reflections – The Generational Gap of value systems between Parents and Children is widening. The African Concept and methodology of correcting and control (ukukontolola), “teaching lessons” (ukufunda) and raising “disciplined and obedient Children” has a slightly different connotation from other Western Cultures. The African version is slowly waning away. African Children are now more pampered, cajoled, over consoled, and probably more spoiled than spared. Parents have been reduced to pleading and begging for children to conform to society norms and pray day and night for desired well being of their own children. The Kopala boys would say “Yalitikila pambabula” Abana ba nomba Balisheta pushi (Children have chewed the Cat) Tesheti.
For the past five (5) years, most of us Zambians have noted the joy of parents and relatives exhibited and splashed all over social media (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, LinkedIn etc.) when one of our own, graduates with a distinction, Credit or merit at Undergraduate level, Masters Level, obtains and PhD, Passes ZIALE, gets promoted, admitted to the Bar, Obtains 6,7,8,9,10-15 points at grade 12, or scores excellent marks at Grade 7 or Grade 9. Indeed, those are wonderful moments worth celebrations.
Before Covid-19, pandemic, a video of Uncle George and Junior went viral on social media and as expected the debate raged on by many Zambians of all shades, hues and sizes, either condemning and others supporting and justifying the actions. Uncle George inevitably tendered his apology publicly to the Nation as well as to family members. It takes real men to admit the wrong, say sorry and apologize. This article is not meant to add any salt to injuries, but just trying to interrogate each one of us to do a self-introspection, a self-soul searching in the heart of our hearts if we have never raised a finger or hand against any one of our own children, nephews, nieces, dependents, workers etc. Let us be sincere, when we were growing up, did we not receive any censure, abuse or a good beating from our parents, guardians, aunties and uncles, teachers or School Headmasters in form of corporal punishment? We just may have been lucky that smart phones and social media may have been absent to capture those life-time moments for us as CHILDREN and for younger generation we may have been tempted to discipline.
According to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) also ratified by Zambia, a CHILD is defined as every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child majority is obtained earlier.
When we speak of “Violence against Children’, we do not just refer to physical violence as demonstrated by Uncle George. Violence includes all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation including sexual abuse. The World Health Organization (WHO) goes further and defines violence as “The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”
After the Millennium Development goals (MDGs), the imperative of ending violence against children has been recognized within the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Adopted by the UN in September 2015, the SDGs embed in their vision the rights of children to lead lives without fear, with targets for ending all forms of violence and related deaths, abuse, exploitation, trafficking and violence against children.
According to the Global Report of 2017 entitled “Ending Violence in Childhood”, the effects and Impacts of violence in childhood are said to be deeply destructive. The damage goes far beyond immediate trauma and fear, extending through many aspects of a child’s life, affecting her or his health, and education, and restricting future life opportunities. Violence can lead to longer-term child depression and behavioral problems, post-traumatic stress, anxiety and eating disorders. Impacts on mental health, in turn, can influence a range of outcomes, making young people more vulnerable to substance abuse and poor reproductive and sexual health.
Another consequence is poor educational achievement. Remember those Parents who are shy or are ashamed of sharing their Children’s 36 points at Grade 12 Examination results as announced by Ministry of Education early in the year every year?? You as parents could have been contributing factors. Research conducted showed that Children with a history of maltreatment can experience impairments in mental well-being that affect academic performance. Learning may also be impaired by corporal punishment (ba Teacher ukupanika ukwimba umuganda – digging garbage Pit and lashes in the backside). Children who fear being physically harmed by their teachers and Head Teachers tend to dislike or avoid school. Another major concern at school is bullying. Adolescents who are bullied miss more school and show signs of poorer school achievement. Bullying (ba Zeze, Grade 8s, form 1 or ba Fresher) adversely affects the bully and the bullied alike, both of whom can have significantly lower academic achievement and poorer health.
The impacts of early experience of violence can extend well into adulthood. Many social, health and economic problems can be traced back to childhood experiences. Young people who have been victims of sexual abuse often feel shame and blame themselves, and can be at greater risk of repeated suicide attempts. Abaice especially in the Western Countries with all the pressures, tend to go through these thoughts…tabakosa sana. Very fragile and have to be handled with special care. So, they claim it.
Adults whose health and education have been compromised by childhood violence may also struggle to get secure employment. Violence experienced in childhood also has adverse effects on the perpetrators: school bullies, for example, are more likely as adults to engage in criminal behavior, mainly violent crime and illicit drug misuse. Moreover, violence in childhood can be transmitted through generations – from parent to child, or sibling to sibling although only a small proportion of those who witness or experience abuse and violence go on to perpetrate violence as adults.
The adverse effects of violence can also be intergenerational, starting even before birth. The most immediate risk for the unborn child is domestic violence against the mother by a partner, spouse or other member of the family.
Whether they are suffering or witnessing abuse, children who grow up with violence in the home learn early and powerful lessons about the use of violence to dominate others. Ask Political Cadres wielding Machetes – Pangas at Bus Stations, markets places, Radio Stations or Jerabos near the Black Mountains.
Beyond the human costs, there are also financial consequences. Violence in childhood is wrong in itself, and must be eliminated. But governments can be reassured that doing the right thing also makes financial sense. It has been estimated that the annual costs of physical, sexual and psychological violence against children (measured indirectly as losses in future productivity) are anywhere between 2 per cent and 5 per cent of global GDP. Using sensitivity analysis, in the highest scenario, they can go up to 8 per cent, or about US$7 trillion.
From a human development perspective, all acts of violence, more so against children, are a violation of human dignity and human rights. It therefore becomes incumbent on the State to protect children, guarantee their constitutional rights, and prevent any form of childhood abuse even if it occurs in the privacy of homes. So GRZ, Victim Support Unit, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHRC, ZPS and NGOs, poseniko amano. An essential starting point for State action is robust and regular measurement of violence indicators, which in turn can help to track progress over time. Ideally, such measurement should cover children across different age groups and record all forms of violence across different settings. The requirement of countries to report on progress towards the SDGs provides an excellent opportunity for governments to start strengthening their data gathering.
Stay Safe and Stay blessed – KEKK05/25/2020