We are continuing to register cases where parents and guardians physical beating as a regular form of punishment for their stubborn children. Most especially, by those parents who are facing some form of social, environmental or economic challenges. During the previous week, two separate videos showed mothers, one beating, stepping, dragging her son and even cutting her leg with a panga, while the second incident the mother repeatedly hit and pushed her son against the wall and main door, causing him serious injuries.
The first video which went viral was of an incident of child abuse by a mother on the 21.04.2022 at around 6pm, at Bugala LCI, Kalangala Town Council in Kalangala District. The biological mother, Katusiime Maureen, a 30-year-old businesswoman, was angered by habitual acts of theft by her son, Kabuuka Vincent (13). She tied up his limbs and used a panga to inflict injuries on his legs. She further used a stick to seriously cane her son. It took the intervention of neighbours, who responded and rescued the victim from the acts of torture and abuse. The mother was reported to Bugala Police by the secretary LCI, Ssebalamu Robert, whom we want to thank. As a result, the suspect was arrested, charged to court on the 26.04.2022 and remanded to Mugoye Prison. She was granted bail on the 12.05.2022, after spending 17 days on remand.
In the second video, a mother, Deborah Apolot repeatedly dragged her son around and hit his head against the wall and main door inflicting serious injuries on her son Mark Omiat aged 10. She was angered after her son disappeared with Shs. 5000 meant for buying groceries. The mother of three has been in abusive relationship with the husband Henry Omiat, for over 10 years and one of the children is epileptic. Her file was however sanctioned and she is to appear in court for child abuse.
Research has shown that physical punishments are not effective, because it does not teach children new behaviour and the misbehaviour does not decline. And in the long term it leads to negative consequences of aggressive behaviour to their siblings, peers or others, psychological disorders, educational delays.
We therefore, urge parents to instead develop positive desired behaviours that they want in their children. Often; parents ignore the occasional bad behaviour of their children from early childhood, others issue empty threats, which sets a bad precedent and allows the child to undermine their authority as they grow up. In addition, children learn by watching adults, therefore, make sure your behaviour is role model material. For instance, you cannot create an impression issuing orders to the child to pick up toys, when your belongings are scattered around.
As parents, let us continue being consistent in deciding rules from daily childhood and uphold them. It is the best strategy the child should know that there are consequences for breaking the rules; like removing privileges such as electronics, small gifts etc. For teenagers around 13 and above, set boundaries and set up rules regarding homework, visits by friends, curfews and discuss with them so that there are no misunderstandings.
And while you become clear on what behaviours will be punished, do not forget to reward behaviours. As parents do not underestimate the positive effect that your praise can have. Discipline is not just about punishment but also about recognising good behaviour. Therefore, compliments like “I am proud of you for sharing with friends; for the neat work, for the level of organisation is more effective.
CP Enanga Fred
16th May 2022