eCAMPAIGN: What YOU Need to Know About Child Abuse!
"Being beaten is like living in a war"
Written by Anna Thor (Communications Officer)
Published August 9, 2008
Cyprian is a young musician with a great deal of life experience. When he was just eight years old, he escaped his home to look for a place where he could be happy - away from the violence he was constantly exposed to. It took him years before he could find a place where there was peace - after leaving his home he ended up living in the streets. His childhood experience shows what it feels like to be subjected to violence in your own home.
"When I heard the singing outside the house, I knew that my father was home and that he had been drinking", says Cyprian. "He would shout: Where is Cyprian?! Then I knew that today I will be beaten. I was so worried, I was feeling very bad! And I was thinking that if only someone could take me away and let me stay with them. "If this would happen to you," Cyprian says, you would feel bad, and you would want to escape the situation and go look for a place where you can feel happy."
From Cyprian's experience, being beaten at home is like living in a war. "Parents - if there is pain in your home, what are you creating? Every day you are creating a war! If you beat a child with a stick, the child will wonder: Am I an animal, or what am I? If the children do something wrong, the parent is supposed to tell them softly and slowly, but instead many yell and scream. This is abuse! If a child is refused to go to school, that child is going to think; why don't you want to send me to school, what did you bring me into this world for?! If you beat your child, he will feel like he is missing something in his home. He will say: Let me go find what I'm missing - let me go to the streets. Let me go find it."
Cyprian wants to give advice to those children out there who are facing violence in their homes. He says that if you are beaten, you should go to your local leaders and report what is happening. "You need to report it!" he says. "There is always a village chairman, you need to go and see him if you are being abused. Not everyone thinks that children should be beaten you know - people are different. Some fathers react like animals towards their children, and those fathers need to be reported!"
Cyprian also says: "Children, don't run to the streets, stay in your home! If you run to the street, the violence will just keep happening to you. In your home, you are beaten but you sleep under a blanket at night. In the streets, you will get beaten the same but you will have to sleep outside. Stay in your home, this problem can be solved! Nobody likes to be worried every day. Go to report it. The village chairman can call a meeting and tell the parents that violence is not a solution."
We at Mkombozi see that children who are beaten are not only risking fatal and non-fatal physical injury, but also consequences for their health and development that they carry foward into their adult life. Violence against children in the home is particularly damaging, since it is carried out by the very people who should be protecting them from harm. When a parent inflicts pain in a child, the biggest part of the lesson for the child will be that the parent is a source of pain and suffering who should be avoided. This causes children to distance themselves from their parent.
Learning to trust your parents, from the time you are a baby, is one of the most important tasks in childhood. This trust, this attachment, is closely linked to the child's future capacity for giving love in relationships, as well as the ability to feel empathy for others. Beating a child can therefore spoil his or her potential for development and achievement later in life.
Mkombozi's call for action: Parents - think before you shout or hit! Is it really in the best interests of your child to be abused?
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